Today was a day of conversations. Varied and divergent exchanges they were, for sure, but it occurs to me in each situation there were imperative negotiations taking place, needs being met, biases and insecurities proudly on parade. A purposeful day at the preschool by any measure.
There was a conversation with a couple of co-workers about the scheduling logistics of taking time out of their program work with kids to write developmental narratives about kids. We all have different ideas and perspectives on time use logistics and priorities, so it never fails to provide a side of frustration with a full order of commitment to doing-a-good-job no matter what’s at the heart of the dispute. I ultimately reminded myself that I need to let go and let competent people solve their own problems. My journey.
The next conversation I was invited into involved some pretty inappropriate and disrespectful actions on the part of one of our oldest kids…nearly five years old if I’m not mistaken. He’s one of those great kids that has strong leadership qualities, a sensitivity to his friends’ feelings and teachers’ expectations, a clear understanding of the culture of the school…..and a 100 watt twinkle in his eye! I got a call from a teacher saying another teacher had come to her upset that this fine young gent had pranked her in a tradition usually reserved for fifth grade summer camp. He then scampered away and laughed uproariously. Hmmm…where do I begin? I listened to all sides, suppressed my own childish smirk, and had the no-nonsense-director-voice conversation with him. My very least favorite kind of conversation. But he took it well, nodded his understanding and contrition and really seemed to reflect and absorb the lessons offered by the situation. There were no tears because there was respect for all of the people involved. No shame, just a call for greater awareness and better choices. The proverbial ‘teaching moment’.
And then there was this: a conversation between two girls, lovingly noticed and documented by a teacher who then told me she had to share and emailed me the following:
This was a conversation overheard between F. and S. this afternoon in the circle area:
(S. had built herself a car out of big blocks, and there was only room for herself inside it. I believe F. was asking her to build another one for her, but S. was declining.)
F: If you don’t do it, my heart will be broken.
S: But you can make your own.
F: My heart will be broken forever.
S: You can go and ask another friend.
F: But my heart will be broken forever.
S: That’s okay, because you will still love me.
…F. thought about it for a minute….
F: Okay, I’ll go and ask all the other kids but and if they say no, I’ll tell you. But not the boys. I’m only asking the girls.
Can’t you hear it? The ease with which they are advocating for their own needs; offering suggestions, providing encouragement and, yes, employing shameless emotional blackmail! What is so wonderful is their deep and unquestioning confidence in their friendship. And themselves. Bravo ladies.
What brings this all together for me is the idea of connectedness. Each of these scenarios illustrate how we have invested in building the kinds of relationships that allow people to take the emotional and social risks to develop even better understanding and cooperation.
Since blogging, when it’s done properly, is a conversation…this seemed like as good a place as any to jump in. Hopefully this larger conversation will turn out to be a great way to reflect on our school and our pursuit of authentic progressive education practices. Every day we review and refine our commitment to a democratic school culture and an abiding attention to weaving social justice through all of our actions and interactions.