Model learner – modeling the ‘wonderful what if’

What does it look like to walk the walk rather than just talking the talk?

Today I felt like drawing. I grabbed some large sheets of paper and my charcoal box and got to work in the garden.

Moments later miss 8 asked if she could draw too. I showed her the media and gave her some paper and walked away to see what might happen. She drew a beautifully expressive drawing of the Japanese maple. I showed her how to spray the drawing to stop further smudging and we enjoyed the process in the sunshine.

It got me thinking though. If I hadn’t gone outside to draw, might she have drawn on her own? If she hadn’t seen my big sweeping lines, might she have tried drawing at such a large scale? If I hadn’t provided the new media, might she have tried it?

What if I hadn’t acted on that feeling? (I didn’t really have an end product in mind today – I just knew I wanted to try drawing in large scale in the garden).

Garden. Charcoal on paper. Katrina Ward.

Some of the best work I have ever gotten out of students is through learning alongside them and modeling the ‘wonderful what if’. Playing with lights for timelapse photography, playing with water for long exposure photography, giving myself mad writing challenges (100 haiku in 100 days was a fun one), freezing flowers to see what might happen, drawing with new tools, playing with new pedagogy and telling them, ‘this class is an experiment – I’m testing out a theory’ (the harkness method worked so well) and modeling the ‘seeing what is possible’ attitude of a lifelong learner.

If we want our learners to embrace failure, thrive with experimentation and innovation, push the envelope with their thinking, write like real writers and tinker like real inventors then we have to model it.

So this post is a challenge. If you wonder something, wonder it out loud and chase the answers. Share the process. Think out loud. Model lifelong learning. Model open wondering. Model metacognition and think about your thinking out loud. Model writing. Model reading. Model the things that are important.

Because you never know, for you it might just be a little wondering, but in that same moment someone small might be taking notice. And that small thing they take notice of could grow into something big.

Maple (charcoal on scrunched paper). Miss 8.

P.S. My only regret is that her paper was so scrunched (we took it out of the craft cupboard from a pile of other things). Mental note: buy more big paper.

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