February 7, 2018
I am thankful, each day, for the opportunity to be a part of our school and be surrounded by great minds at work every day. As a faculty and staff we plan new initiatives and develop educationally sound programs while also working to move the school forward; it is the great minds that surround us that steer our conversations and motivate us.
Two of those great minds were recently sitting on the brick ledge at Blue Circle during dismissal and they caught my attention. Two Kindergarten students had pulled the leaves off a fern frond and had carefully placed them on the wall working together. I sat and watched quietly for a while then asked what they were doing. “Math,” was the quick, short answer.
“Tell me about the math,” I asked
“Well, there are three ‘ferny’ things here and he has four. So, we counted and together we have seven,” one of the students answered.
Just as his friend spoke up to count for me, the wind blew and the fern leaves scattered. They looked at each other, giggled, and announced they had to find “heavier things to add.” As they searched the area around them, they decided it was too windy for anything they saw. Quickly, with eyes gleaming, one reached into his backpack and pulled out his leftover pretzel snack to triumphantly announce, “Let’s use these.” They happily continued to arrange them in groups and giggle as they counted and moved the pretzel pieces, one ordering the other, “You watch for squirrels.”
In a time when the primary topic for educators and businesses is innovation, we are fortunate that we can just open our eyes to watch the children around us to find innovation. By nature, children will try things new ways, find new uses for the objects surrounding them, and seek alternatives in timing and scheduling: all behaviors that are hallmarks of innovative environments and innovative thinkers. Our goal is to ignite that sense of wonder and innovation in our students and provide an authentic environment that fosters thinking outside of the box.
Innovation is not simply reserved for the Shark Lab makerspace. At JCDS, we know that innovation is occurring when children find ways to play differently and make up their own rules (when appropriate). We also know that when we provide children with tools, figuratively and literally, they will find limitless uses. As a leader in elementary education, we also know that by providing the space to create, whether that is inside or outside, a child’s ability to innovate will be boundless.