Two days of research-based info telling us play is an important part of learning, teach what is developmentally appropriate, blah blah Common Core, blah blah Depth of Knowledge. I listened. I learned. I took notes. By day three I had lost my notebook… and my will to sit and listen.
The day started out wrong. I had agreed to go for a walk with my cohorts on the condition that it could be done in my flip flops and normal clothes because I did not pack workout gear. When almost everyone showed up in work out gear – I should have went back to bed. But no, I wasn’t the only one there in flip flops and normal clothes so, you know, I decided to “go with the flow.” Revelation number one: My reality is completely different than other peoples. Apparently some people can hike around downtown Tacoma in flip flops with short legs without breaking a sweat. I cannot. Which would have been okay, I guess, but I hadn’t had my coffee. Revelation number two: going for a hike in flip flops without my coffee is a really bad idea.
Surprisingly, I managed to survive the hike without causing any chalk outlines to appear on the sidewalk. In fact, after a little oatmeal and a venti Americano, I was ready to roll. I had signed up for a class about putting together some kind of math kits. I was very excited to see six large Rubbermaid totes with colorful toys inside sitting at the front of the room. Yes! Learning through play is good. It’s important. We learned that this week. What’s in the box?
Then the nice lady went through the research about why math is important. Yes. I am aware. Math is good. Math is important. What’s in the box? Then the lady gave us a handout to read. About math. And the research that showed math is important. Yes. I know. What’s in the box?
I tossed the handout aside. I bounced in my chair. I craned my neck to see up front and to try to figure out what’s in the damn box. Then she told us why she made the boxes and how. Okay. Good for you. WHAT’S IN THE BOX? Then she said something quite maddening. “It’s not important what’s in the box.” A vinyl record scratched loudly in my brain. Aw, hell. She’s not going to let us see what’s in the box. Somebody call 911. This is going to end badly.
We took a break. I decided I needed more anti-homicide juice (otherwise known as coffee). Thankfully, when the class started again the boxes were open, spread out around the room. Except everyone was standing around reading the binders. Why? Why are we reading? Look – look at the toys! Apparently we had to read why each item was in the box. Seriously? Umm, I don’t know, maybe to learn math. The fun way. Get rid of the binder and let’s do this! Revelation number three: I’ve been torturing my students with bins full of colorful toys stacked on shelves in my classroom.
Toys were played with. Ideas were gained. But mostly I learned to never go without coffee, and always start the school year with a box-opening extravaganza.
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