Every day I find myself "kicking out" a small group of students who linger in my classroom at the start of morning recess. While I love spending time with my students, I think it's important for them to have time away from the classroom to socialize, relax, and play. Not to mention it's my time to run last-minute copies, grab some tea, use the restroom, and check in with my teaching partner. Very important stuff.
On Monday, two of my students - a boy and a girl - asked to stay in to work on a special project. It's about dragons, they told me. And magical powers. And battling evil creatures. It also involves extensive research and lots and lots of sticky notes. Really, it's amazing, and I had to allow it.
I've watched them work every day this week during recess - reading side-by-side, consulting with one another, furiously taking notes, changing their minds as they go along, and getting excited by possibilities. They are so engrossed in their collaboration, they rarely acknowledged my presence. I admire their creativity, drive, and persistence to take on such a big project during their free time, and I've loved watching them work together this week.
Other students have been watching them, too. They are curious as to the nature of the project and want to be a part of it. They see that it's something special and part of something bigger. For the time being, though, my two students have kept the dragon project to themselves. It's meaningful and important work to them, and others just don't seem to fully get it.
What I've realized watching this dragon project unfold is that no matter how old we are, we get emotionally attached to our big ideas. We cling to them, nurture them, and fiercely protect them. We want them to succeed, we want to see them through with other like-minded folks, and we want to make them our own. Big ideas are successful when they've got the right combination of imagination and brain-power behind them.
The best part about all of this is that I'm not even sure my two students know where the dragon project is taking them. They are invested because they enjoy each other's company, share a similar passion, and work well together. I'm confident it will change and grow over time, and perhaps it may even fizzle out. Regardless, I think it's pretty darn amazing that I can learn so much from my students just by listening and observing them.