Let it snow, let it snow
by Loyal Interim District Administrator Mark J. Lacke
A few years ago, I was standing with elementary teachers near the playground watching children react to a new ‘packy’ snowfall. Every student, whether with a partner or working in small groups, was busy making their best snowman. Some creations were short and wide while others wanted theirs to be the tallest. The student work-ethic was impressive as they knew that 15 minutes was their time limit. Eventually each of them responded to the bell, coming into the building wet, rosy-cheeked and puffing from their efforts. In their wake stood dozens of snow-people, no two alike.
Where’s the story here, you might ask?
In education today, adults are very concerned about scripting the actions of our youth with Common Standards; best practices; updated curriculums and modifications for individual plans; classroom regulations; teacher training; assertive discipline; statewide testing; alternative education options: modeling appropriate practices and on and on. Looking out onto that playground though, there were no blueprints, lesson plans or grading of the end products. None of the creations were identical so the bell-shaped curve could not be used. Student attitudes and the playground learning atm osphere swelled with excitement as they looked around at the structures made by others. They were all happy and proud! The old teacher in me wondered what it would be like if this same scenario could be transferred to the pending English essay or math assignment in the classroom. Truly remarkable if the climate inside the school was one where EVERY student felt this satisfaction, on EVERY task, during EVERY day, in EVERY room, respecting EVERY other person’s effort … That is the utopia that teachers strive to establish. Just as someone taught these kids what a snowman might look like, a great teacher gives children the tools, concepts and time to explore, then watches with marvel at the creations before them.
As a side-note to watching the snowman construction, one child caused me to reflect even more. After rolling a snowball that was much too small for the intended head, he ATE it! The snowball didn’t have a warning label about being sugar-free, gluten-free, no limits on serving size, artificial flavoring, calories, fat or added chemicals. Just pure joy!
Sometimes it’s fun to watch kids being kids.