Friday, September 26, 2014

'Wander and Wonder'-Taking Time to Notice

I began all my classes this year with a 'Wander and Wonder.' Students followed me through the school and outside, silent and without phones. Eventually, we all returned to the classroom perhaps ten minutes later. Their instructions were simple: don't talk, look around you-simply notice. Of course, some of them thought I was that crazy art teacher. They thought it was funny or silly. But some of them really enjoyed it. I realized that this week when one of my freshmen asked, "Are we going to do that walking thing again?" "Why," I asked? "Because it was cool," he answered. "We never get time to slow down and look at stuff." Wow, he got it.

Their lives, all of our lives, are so fast-paced and crazy. There is so little time to slow down and look around you. I'm addicted to my cell phone, so I know. I heard a story on NPR that said the average person checks their cell phone 150 times a day. I thought, wow, is that all? I check mine way more than that! There is so much competing for our attention these days that we rarely get to focus on one thing.

I've banned phones from my classroom, except when I give them permission to look something up. It's a habit-multi-tasking. I think our students need time and spaces where they unplug, and my classroom is one of those spaces. I want them to be involved in the process of being creative and that definitely takes time and their full attention. It's also a habit you can build. Creativity doesn't always come like a light bulb. It usually takes struggling and playing with materials and ideas. It takes time and focus. So another 'Wander and Wonder' will definitely happen soon. Perhaps when they are particularly fidgety or unfocused. I think we will do them many times during the year, just to see if it gets easier for my students.
Wander and wondering with a Teacher Class this summer!