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A Little More Conversation a Little Less Action Please!

#whereisthelearning in little conversations I have about sore fingers or sparkly shoes in music class?

Last Friday in my Special Subscriber Zoom class, one of my little friends was calling “Lynda, Lynda” and putting her hand up to speak with me. I unmuted her and she showed me her finger wrapped in a band aid and told me “I cutted my finger”. She told me it was OK because now she had a band aid and I blew her finger a comfort kiss through the screen. She was so happy to share that little piece of information with me. Later as we said goodbye, some of my other little friends hung back with one showing me her mini harmonica and another showing me his space pillow.

Because I am an innate perfectionist, I used to put great internal pressure on myself to “perform” when delivering my program and make every session a wonderful, memorable experience for the children and their parents or educators. When you only have a half hour with a group of children, this desire for “perfection” can lead to a temptation to hurry the children through their little chats so you can get to what you had planned to teach. But that’s not how it works in early childhood and that's not how it works for me anymore! Perfectionist be gone!

I decided a while ago now, that for me to be as authentic as possible and to have integrity as a teacher, I was going to give my little friends the opportunity to express themselves and I was going to listen to their stories intently, even about their new Sketchers that light up or their sore finger. Because through these stories, I learn more about the children, their interests, what makes them tick and this in turn informs my teaching. I also give of myself in classes but not in terms of hectic energy anymore (although I’m still pretty bubbly) but in terms of sharing stories about myself and what I like. I talk about my shoes, my cat, my dog, my holidays. The children then feel a connection with me that permits them to trust me and share their thoughts with me. I am a better teacher when I listen to my student’s stories.

Marilyn Fleer, a respected early childhood scholar said, “if teachers listen to children, respect their ideas and consider them to be as important as their own, then teachers, families and children can co-construct knowledge together as they negotiate curriculum”. I see myself as a co-choreographer with the children in my classes rather than an all-knowing expert, so making time for these conversations in music class where the children’s thinking becomes truly visible, is just as important to the children’s learning as learning new songs and dances.

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