I suspect my neighbors thought I was crazy as I crawled around the lawn in my skirt when I got home from work today. I had spotted some new mushrooms growing this morning and noticed that one had a hole where you can see through to the inside.
After unloading my work bag and feeding my cats, I attached the macro lens to my iphone and set out to get a closer look at the underside of the mushrooms. One had been kicked over and lay with the underside exposed. It was already turning brown on the exposed texture that is in such contrast to the smooth outside surface.
And then I got down on my hands and knees to look through the hole along the edge of the mushroom top. I peered through first with my eye…and then with the lens of my camera trying to capture the interesting layers I spied beneath the surface.
These mushrooms remind me that what I see on the surface doesn’t always capture the complexity of what lies beneath. My classroom is like that too. There is so much about each of my students that isn’t visible unless I take the time to bend down and look carefully beneath the surface. And sometimes I need a special tool, like my macro lens, to bring those interesting layers into focus. Sometimes that tool is those informal conversations that I have with the students near me as we walk in lines. Other times it is the opportunity to listen into a discussion a small group is having about a math concept or a story we have read. Oftentimes it is through my students’ writing that I learn the most. Their stories reveal their interests and their experiences…and show me what they know about reading and writing and science and sometimes even math and social studies. Looking at a piece of student writing is like looking at the underside of a mushroom. When you take the time to get beyond the surface, there are layers and layers that unfold and reveal new information that helps me know my students and helps me help them learn.
What have you learned from a student lately?