Have you shared your smile today?
I’m smiling a lot these days. I’ve learned new things about doodling — I’ve learned about lettering and people and expressions. That’s one of my best doodling ever in that featured image, and it’s my experience leading up to Day 19 Gum Drop People in #21doodledays by @DianeBleck at 21 Doodle Days [Free] that made it happen. I so appreciate that the course was free and personalized. My friend Helen DeWaard wrote about her experience here:
Helen asks about “Back to Basics,” which for me, in my retirement, is to first, spend more time with family, and two, find the things I once loved, but didn’t take time for in the important work of teaching so students learn. As for education and teaching: we teach students. Obvious, yes? But today, in the US, we still focus on tests, Common Core State Standards, and what we used to call “remediation” but now is called “intervention.” The emphasis is on the test, on continuous interventions, and not necessarily what will actually result in learning because schools often ignore the person in their emphasis on interventions and tests.
But the basics are realizing that whoever comes through that door, with all they know and don’t know, and how they feel that day, and the dreams they have — that’s what is most important. Years ago ASCD emphasized the “whole child” and that was always the basics for me. So we found time for the things that mattered to students, which included my limited knowledge of art. Or music. Or whatever questions the students had. We made time to connect and build a learning community together. In education today, I think “back to basics” means letting teachers teach, according to the interests and needs of their students; let them teach in authentic ways with the “whole child” in mind. Bring more smiles to the classroom! Smiles lift hearts!
So now, “Back to Basics,” is where I am in doodling. I was a doodler of designs: people I could not draw — and now look! I choose to learn something I love, but was a novice. How I wish I had taken the time to find a doodler like Diane Bleck and learn the “basics” of shapes and expressions. I would have helped the students like me who loved art but felt intimidated by putting pencil to paper. So, this is what I do now: pick up on the things I didn’t take time to do in the busy-ness of being a teacher.
So if any new teachers, or veterans, read this, I hope they put relationships — getting to know students– and building a learning community first and foremost. That means taking time for the things that interest students. One way to do this is through activities to make, do, share, and discuss like those in Jack Canfield’s book 100 Ways to Enhance Self Concept in the Classroom. I had the first edition, and built on many of those ideas. See also any of Jackie Gerstein’s posts, including this one on the Beginning of the Year: It’s about Connections, not Content. And show them your struggles with learning. Show them what you are learning. And, if a teacher ever feels like the students are no longer excited about learning, or are dragging their feet, just step back, then step back in with a focus on connecting with those students again. Without relationships — with the teacher and to each other– learning doesn’t happen in positive ways.
I repeat: Let teachers have the freedom to teach the students in their classrooms. The Atlantic published an article about this, which is important to read:
…it gave the teacher an opportunity to create something new, to develop as a professional who thinks about and experiments with pedagogy, and to reflect thoughtfully upon her work. It also allowed her to build trust with students, who desperately want to feel hopeful and engaged at school.
Learning will happen in positive ways when teachers, not mandates, guide learning.
And back to basics for anyone, is learning something new. Imagine taking the 21 Doodle Days [Free] as a family. Build a family art board. I know I’m starting to understand how important images are to understanding. Sometimes a picture or sketch clarifies the words. Sometimes, a sketch just helps make connections. Whether at home, with friends, or at work — a sketch can sometimes be the starting point to a better conversation, an understanding, or just a way to lift someone’s spirits. Wouldn’t it be nice if we all could doodle?
Want to know more about Doodling? This summer I helped facilitate CLmooc’s Make Cycle 3 Doodle It! I’ve learned so much more through my #21doodledays experience, but find many links in that link and more here.
Diane Bleck’s 21 Doodle Days [Free]