During this month of August, we have guests from Japan staying with us. It is an extraordinary time; a time of bridging two cultures, two languages, two ways of living and being, and of beginning to build a new relationship. It is very much a growing experience for me – letting go of some of my expectations and standards, and making room for a different perspective. At times I feel a little stressed; my comfortable ways of doing things are being challenged a bit by “another way.”
But, along the way, something wonderful has happened. I have begun to see my home, my way of doing things, my culture, my language, and my life through another’s eyes. More and more I am looking at everything around me through a new lens. What are our guests from Japan seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting, touching as we introduce them to new experiences? As a result, I have begun to think more about “who,” and let the “what” and “how” take a back seat.
Their experience has now become all important to me; it is as if a light bulb has gone off in my head. The focus has shifted from what I am doing to what they are receiving. Let me say this once again, because it is so very important – the focus has shifted from what I am doing to what they are receiving. It is about them! And, as I make this deliberate shift in my head, everything has become clear to me. For every interaction, experience, situation, I am thinking first about our guests – and walking in their shoes. After all, this visit is about their experiences.
And, as I reflect more on this personal “epiphany,” I have begun to think professionally, about the new school year at hand, the new children we will soon be receiving, and their experiences in our classrooms. It is an “Aha” moment! It is much the same; it is looking at what we do through a new lens and making room for a different perspective.
So, this month of August, as we begin the designing, the planning, and the purchasing for our classrooms, I ask you to think about a “different perspective.” Will you make the shift in your head from what you are doing to what the children are receiving? It’s a subtle shift, but it is transformational! Become the child and walk in his shoes.
Will you let go of some of your “comfortable” habits and routine ways of planning activities for the children; designing space for the children; creating routines and schedules for the children? Will you try something a bit different?
Will you look through a new lens as you begin this school year? Will you focus your energy first on the children, and their individual and collective experiences with you? And then, on your planning, designing, and implementing phases?
Will you first take the time to see the entry to your school, the lighting, the color, the wall displays, your classroom, the furniture, the equipment, and the many materials available, through the eyes of your very young children?
Will you first take the time to hear the sounds of your program – the buzzer at the front door, the talking, furniture moving, the giggles, the outbursts, wind chimes playing, water running, the background music in your classroom – through the ears of your very young children?
Will you first take the time to smell the bread baking, the flowers, the herbs in the water table, the tempera paint, the clay, the glue, as your very young children do?
Will you first take the time to feel the breeze through the window, the warmth from the sun, the texture of the walls, the gritty sand, the oobleck, the sudsy water, the soft pillows, as your very young children do?
I believe that if we can use all of our senses, and see, hear, smell, and feel as our children do, we can more fully understand their experiences in our classrooms. And, in the process, together create an extraordinary child-focused, child-centered program.
Now, go back and re-read the first six paragraphs of this post one more time.
In my world, it is always about the children! Bring your best to work each day – for them! Amazing things will happen in your work, and in your life!