With every book I read about innovation and tapping into your students’ inner genius it’s always examples of secondary school students doing amazing things. I love the inspiration, and love the stories, but I often am left with the thought…what about us? I sit in the lowest age group at the primary level and yet I read, read, read, and adapt, tweek, and keep our little legs movin’ to keep up with the big kids. Why do I do it? Because not only do I believe in my kids, but they have yet to meet a challenge they weren’t excited to take on. I recently had a conversation with my principal, and I told her that I think I have completely underestimated the capability of 5 and 6 year olds for years now. Not only can they read, write, and solve math; but they are amazing critical thinkers, inventors, problem solvers, and passion driven learners….all wrapped up in a small explosive package of energy.
With every new project I challenge them to do, they rise and exceed my wildest expectations.
My most recent example of completely being blown away by their awesomeness was our adventure into design thinking. I have been very interested in design thinking for the last 6 months, but just recently took the dive into actually trying to implement it in my room. After reading the book LAUNCH, by A.J. Juliani and John Spencer, I felt like a LAUNCH challenge would be the best way to jump in to see if this was possible with my kiddos.
So with an unsure outlook, but determined heart, I started week 1 of our rollercoaster build.
Now here I am at week 7, and yesterday we proudly displayed our amusement park.
My heart at about the middle of the 5th and 6th Phase just didn’t know if we had it in us. Here I am with October kindergarteners, cardboard everywhere, and tape 101 classes every afternoon. This was the point that I told a colleague, “maybe this is just too much for them right now” and almost did the exact thing I always tell my kids what NOT to do. I almost gave up. Then small sparks of hope started to emerge.
We plugged along, dove DEEP into Phase 6, and I stayed strong and didn’t solve their problems. They pushed through, they worked together, and learned more about force, motion, and gravity then I could have ever taught them in an isolated science lesson.
At about week 5 and 6 the squeals of excitement began to happen, the frustration began to diminish, and what emerged was this amazing moment that I never would have imagined kindergarteners would do as a team on their own. They researched, surveyed, solved problems, and dug deep. In the end they came up with products that they, if asked, would probably tell me it needs to be bronzed and displayed forever. Their hearts and souls are in their work, and I am beyond proud of this moment.
Yesterday was another day that I left my room thinking that they just made a positive impact on not only me, but my future students for years to come.
I’m not laying the foundation here in kindergarten, just igniting the fire.