For the past few years, my students and I have begun the year with a See, Think, Wonder thinking routine exploring the classroom, making inferences about what we find there, and wondering about our learning in the year ahead. It’s a good first-day activity to get students moving around, asking questions, and visibly thinking. The boys have always enjoyed it, and I’ve always left at the end of the first day feeling energized for the next. Nevertheless, I’m planning to abandon the lesson this year.
Two weeks ago I attended the Clark County Connected Conference in Jeffersonville, Indiana. As I reflected on the day, I realized I attended several great sessions, but Dean Shareski’s keynote “Whatever Happened to Joy?” resonated with me in a particularly powerful way. I’ve been thinking about it ever since. If you have time, you should watch it.
Near the end of his keynote, Dean shared several ways we can cultivate joy. I could certainly embrace more joy, so I’ve been revisiting my notes and experimenting with his methods. One way he suggested is simply to wonder. So, in the days leading up to a new school year, I’m trying to cultivate my sense of wonder. I’m reading and researching. I’m taking the time to look at things closely, and as I sit here dreaming about a new year and looking at new class lists, I’m beginning to wonder about each boy. I wonder what he’s like, and I wonder what he likes. I wonder what he wonders–not about 6th-grade reading, our classroom, or me. But, what does he wonder about life? About what is he curious? What puzzles him about the world? What inspires him and holds his interest? What does he most want to learn?
I’m not sure what the first day of school will look like. I have no brilliant lesson plan, and I haven’t figured out what we’ll do. But I want to start–on the very first day–uncovering and embracing their wonder, and hopefully, together we can cultivate our sense of awe.
Dean shared the video below in his keynote, and I think I’ve watched it at least 15 times over the past two weeks. “We have a responsibility to awe.” Indeed.