Wonder and Wander: A Middle School Story

The time of year has arrived: Spring Break has come and gone; Easter weekend appears as a dream of places far, far away. The struggle for daily focus is very real for teacher and student alike, and so the collective mind of all parties begins to wonder and wander.

Typically, the wandering starts first.

“I can’t believe they are making us work so hard on a Friday.”

“Did my mom pack cheddar bunnies for snack? I love cheddar bunnies.”

“I’m just not sure that my students are ready to move on, yet.”

“Facebook is really calling me right now. It’s so-and-so’s birthday…I’ll just dive in real quick to wish him a happy day.”

For various reasons, our minds are tired and the ability to focus on the present is challenged by the potential for the alternative.

Teachers and students start to separate the lives that they hope to live from the reality and effort that exists in the classroom. Perhaps it’s the warmer weather (at least, in Houston), or the realization that the amount of effort needed to “move the needle” is incredibly daunting. For various reasons, our minds are tired and the ability to focus on the present is challenged by the potential for the alternative. The wandering is natural and should be appreciated for what it is: a need for something different and disruptive to the normal flow.

So, as a challenge to my staff, I encourage them to focus on the wonder that they can harness within their remaining programming. If the average child needs to dive down a rabbit hole, then be that great guide on the side and encourage the journey. Allow other students to travel together. This journey could be in the way of a project, or a designed disruption to the norm. The challenge to the staff is two-fold:

  1. Students gain the opportunity to engage in their curiosity. This in turn create a classroom where learning can remain at the center, not content.
  2. Teachers engage in disruptive, innovative thought. This thought translates into energizing work as they find ways to bring the fun out of what would otherwise be a time doldrums and waiting.

So enjoy these weeks in the gap. Hopefully, you and your teaching teammates can embrace the wonder and wander through some fun, exciting moments in your classes.

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