So tomorrow the year begins, not yet for children but for their teachers as we begin to look forward to a year with a new collection of children. As I have pondered the “red thread” we’ll follow for this year, the answer was given to me in the form of a bird’s nest, a swallow’s nest, to be exact. Hardin and I were finishing our final lake swim of the summer at Camp Merrie Woode, and he found a nest nestled among the eves on the swimming dock. This swallow’s nest will join a collection that includes a hummingbird nest, multiple robin’s nests, and other various and sundry nests that we have found over several springs and summers. It will be the beginning of my Headline News, as well as the beginning of our “red thread” for collections will be a focus that can lead us through our year together.
The dictionary defines collection in two ways. The first is the act of collecting or gathering together, and the second is a group of things gathered together. For this year, our first and most important collection will be the children who will gather together in a group to explore the new frontier that kindergarten presents. Each of these children will come into our classroom with a unique perspective on the world, each with his/her own passions. As we begin our time together, our collection of personalities will be revealed as we discover the ways in which we are alike as well as the delightful ways in which we differ.
One of the ways in which we demonstrate our individuality within a group is with the presentation of our passions. When we share our enthusiasm for anything, we are opening ourselves to others, as we find common areas of agreement (or dissent) and make connections that might otherwise be missed. As we look at collections, it can be a window into the passions of another person. With my collection of nests, folks can ascertain that I have a passion for those winged creatures that grace our lives with their beauty and their songs. A collection of shark teeth can indicate a passion for the ocean, and can expand into an exploration of types and habitats of sharks. A collection of pottery can expand into a look at methods of creating pottery as well as the historical significance of fired clay in the evolution of the human race.
So what is the red thread we can follow in kindergarten during this year that will follow the word “collection?”
That will depend greatly on the children that we have, and the passions they will bring to our class. It will give us an opportunity to follow the sparks that each collection will bring to our lives as we watch for the clues, the constant mediation that will happen between the children and their adults. Their passions—collections—will provide us with a window through which we can lead the class in explorations of another world. A collection of leaves can lead us into us into a look at the types of trees on Trinity’s campus, a quest as to why some leaves fall and others stay green all year, a wondering as to the shapes of leaves. This can be a springboard for both reading, writing, and science as we work together as a collection of learners.
By using the passions—the collections—of the children and their teachers we will build agreements on the shape of our classroom as we follow this “red thread.” Our collections will not be limited by collections of objects, but will also allow for the collection of words, of ideas, of buildings we create, of books we love, of stories we share, of conversations, of dreams, of songs we sing together. It will be an amazing year, a year in which our look at collections will lead to collaboration and growth as we set the table with the passions of our children. Let the year begin!