They shone. They exuded confidence. They were primed to learn in this manner.
By the time I made it to the observation, my students had already demonstrated success and were charged to replicate the process of learning. I was confident in their capability to collaborate and thrive using the structure. This also meant, I didn’t mull the content in the same manner that I used to. By placing emphasis on how they would learn, I was able to enjoy the flavors and the perspectives they brought to the information.
Round three: reptiles and amphibians. I deliberately chose this pairing because I remember thinking (and perhaps even arguing) as a child, that turtles were amphibians. I also remember my shock when I learned that snakes are delightfully smooth and not slimy, as I had imagined. I wanted the challenge of clarifying this to my own students. I had still over-prepared and I knew going in that 30 minutes would not be enough to learn, create, present and do the individual assessment, but I was eager about what we could get done. Eager, excited and surprisingly calm. My guard wasn’t completely down. Of course, I wanted to excel, but my focus had shifted to what was most important and I was able to enjoy my own observation because I took the time to do the same thing—observe the myriad ways in which my students learn, share their perspectives and prior knowledge and synthesize, demonstrate and share their learning.
We did change one thing. This round, we gave each group a specific question to focus their listening on. My words to them: “View the whole video, but really listen for the habitat of the reptile/amphibian; describe reptile skin and explain how amphibians spend part of their time in water and part on land.” Out of this charge came a spot-on explanation of metamorphosis!
Subsequently, the individual assessment did reveal some of the same confusion I remembered, slimy vs. slick skin and chameleon as amphibian are a few that came up. Settled with a gentle reminder and explanation—feedback that was welcome each time.
And now, we journey on. More animals learned and the pinnacle of this experience, fresh, new, and incubated eggs that in three weeks time will hatch. Attributes of birds: wings, two feet, beaks, feathers. Attributes of Kindergarten chick masters: eager, patient, protective, learners ready to nurture and care, all the while…learners, learning how to learn!
Tea leaves, indeed. Primed for brewing.