Finding Open Moments in the Last Week
That was it. The mad dash, each feeling somehow more frantic while the number of meaningful learning tasks dwindled to non-existence. Some of my favorite kid encounters happen on these days, when students find themselves (for once!) at loose ends for an hour or more. At one point I had 10 students, grades 5-8, in the makerspace working on. . .stuff. On a home-brew design for a solar powered O-Scale train. On endstops for the MendelMax. On their first ever solder joint. This 8th grade class were my first 5th graders at Flint Hill, the first kids who wandered into a computer lab that no longer exists and wondered “what does a Mr. Carle class feel like?” In these loose moments, reprieved for a few hours from the forced march of double language / art / honors / athletics, students I haven’t taught in 3 years wander through and try out some new steps.
The next afternoon the crowd was smaller, and we played good games. I will never tire of teaching middle schoolers Citadels, and watching them stumble into the gameplay pit carved out by the the tiny rulebook. In games, like school, they approach new rules with no questions and little visible curiosity. Great games make for powerful learning, because the rules students had assumed were arbitrary drive them directly to the heart of fun, interesting decisions.
In another 3 days, I’m not sure wether I’d see the same behavior. They could already taste the mandatory sloth of summer, but knew that something else was possible in the strange twilight of the year.