The New World Teacher must be both scientist and artist. The scientist seeks clues as to the creative and other strengths of each child. The artist designs experiences to foster individual strengths and develop 21st thinking. These roles require the following actions:
Identify and nurture the cognitive and other strengths of each child. Find out as much as you can about what is unique about each child. Even a child’s favorites or interests provide good clues. Observe, talk to the child and his parents and teachers, and create open-ended experiences to elicit information.
Find out what each child likes to do inside and outside school. Try to find out what unexpected experiences he might have had.
Look without judging.
- What do you see him doing?
- What does he seem to enjoy doing?
- What seems hard for him?
- How does he relate to other people?
- What problems or obstacles does he encounter? How does he deal with them?
Observe patterns of negative behavior in your classroom. What is behind the behavior of each child?
Find out what expectations are placed on him by family, community or culture.
Use the Sensory Alphabet as a Filter.
Create open-ended creative challenges to find out more about his creative strengths. Note: Ideas for these will be delineated in future blogs!
The Sensory Alphabet:
MAKE YOUR BEST GUESSES
Become an ‘alchemist.’
Strive to turn any negatives you found about a child into positives. Possibilities:
- A bully might become a leader. Note: They will need guidance and 30-50 opportunities to practice positive leadership activities.
- A liar might become a great storyteller. Note: He may need a scribe to write down his ideas.
- A class clown might have a future in entertainment.
- Someone who argues all the time might become a lawyer.
- A “mean” girl/boy might need social situations to explore.
- A “shy” person may need a supportive partner to work with.
Put together all the information you have about each child and create positive profiles. Use the Sensory Alphabet to help your thinking. Call in a colleague or two, especially if they think very differently than you but are familiar with the Sensory Alphabet and especially to discuss a child that has you stumped.
Based on your analysis, use your imagination to consider ways to enrich and nurture each child’s mind. A colleague or two might be helpful here as well. Look for materials and media, experts, questions/tasks and group projects.
Create individual physical and/or digital portfolios. Have children design “Me Papers” or similar forms that allow them to express their strengths and interests.
- Lay out butcher, craft, or brown paper about 5’ long.
- Have each child lie on the paper in a pose he likes.
- Use a pencil to trace around the outline of the child.
- Provide markers, crayons, tempera and brushes, collage or other materials.
- Ask each child to decorate their paper with important things about himself.
- You or another adult should re-draw the outline with black paint so that it is visually stronger.
- Hang these portraits around the room or create a museum-like exhibit with tall cardboard “screens.”
- On “Parent’s Day,” take parents on a tour of these and explain the strengths you see in each child. If possible, recommendations for further nurturing each children’s unique imaginations.
Make your own Me Paper, too!