Thursday, July 11, 2013
Fast and Slow
On my professional path to where I am now, I spent a chunk of time as the orchestrator (aka teacher) in a K - 2 classroom. I had the pleasure of guiding children for their first three years of public school education. Unless their sibling was in the class, I generally first met my new students as eyes wide open five year olds. I got to hold them for three years, taking them from that pre-literate place to thriving chapter book readers. From September to June, we had wonderful days together. There was a daily rhythm in our world complete with songs, art, outside play, tons of books, math stuff, writers' workshop, hands on science exploration and lots of (what I thought of as) the social curriculum. That was simply time devoted to learning who we each were and how to get along with each other. I don't know what it is about little kids but their observations, their reality, their freshness completely capture me. I enjoyed planning our days together and I loved watching their faces and their reactions to what unfolded in our world.
Parents were an integral part of that world. I needed them in order to make everything happen that I wanted to have happen. I needed parents who would sit on the rug and explore tangrams with children or guide a lesson about ladybugs or take a small group outside and play with jump ropes while I sat at the reading table helping children learn to make sense out of letters and words. I loved the additional adults in the room too just for the shared adult perspective and humor, Most parents trusted me to guide their children but sometimes there was some anxiety about a child's academic progress in the class. I completely got that. After all, these parents were turning over their most precious jewels to me for six hours a day. Parents wanted to know that their child's time was well used.
One thing I did know clearly was that children cannot be rushed. They will come to places in their own time. That didn't mean that I wasn't alert to possible obstacles that the school could assist with (a referral for special ed services, for example) but my professional eye often could sense when a child simply needed a slower time frame. She was going to get there (reading chapter books, for example) but she was taking the scenic route. Somewhere I came across this phrase and it fit perfectly:
Recently I had cause to return to this notion of taking slow to grow. Oddly, what occurred to me is that it isn't just kids who need slow in order to grow. We adults often need the same thing to reach new places in our lives. The current culture is jammed with activity and expectations. Days go by fast. How many balls can we juggle? How many things can we check off our to do lists? How fast can we go? The flip side is what happens when we slow it way down. What can we see and what can we hear when we meander instead of sprint? It's no earth shatteringly new idea. But it is one worth considering. I, for one, plan to experiment with more slow and less fast.
How about you? Where do you find slow in your life? Are you drawn to fast or to slow? Would you like more of one or the other?