photography and growing...what is the question?

The K teachers and I gave the children black and white copies of the 'Superbooth" photos, hoping they would notice more about each others faces, and to give them time to talk about the guiding uestions for this inquiry... 

How will you change in Kindergarten?
What will you learn?

Tyler- I will learn how to ride a skateboard down my driveway.
Graeme- How to be nice, all the time, to be friends with everybody.
? Brain? You'll learn how your brain works.
G You'll know how to do stuff. (like what?) Like tie your shoes and even your teeth will fall out.
Hailey I don't want my teeth to fall out.
T Yeah, I want my teeth.
G It’s ok, your grownup teeth grow in
Skylar and you get new baby teeth every year.
T baby teeth?
S and grown up teeth. I’ll learn how to ride a pink motorcycle
H When I grow up I’m gonna have a pet (?garbled)
S I’ll learn all the second graders and first graders names (how?)
By making new friends

(everyone sings, “Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other’s gold. Like a circle, that has no end, that’s how long I want to be your friend…”)

G You start to learn hard. (like what?) Like when you’re a baby you didn’t know how to do it, but when you’re get grown up you know how to do it now.
S I suggest we never throw tantrums at this school. (what?) No one ever throws tantrums at this school. (Sometimes they do) Really? I didn’t know that. (what else will change about you?) I’ll be old as the second graders and the first graders.
T Hey! Are you already six?
S No. I’m about to be six cause it’s almost my birthday.
T Why am I the only one who haven’t got their birthday circle yet?
S Know when my birthday is? After Christmas.
(what else about friends?)
H I still miss Ada cause she’s not here (sick?) She’s in California!
(tell me about this nice thing. Will you really learn to always be nice? How do you do that?)

H By making new friends, and loving each other, and hold hands, and sit next to…
G I’ll just be nice. (how?) Like, if they fall down help them get back up.
T Not me, cause I’m a boy.
(You won’t help people cause you’re a boy?)

T No, I’ll help other people, but no one can help me, I’m a boy. Only don’t to boys, ok? Ok? Unless they’re really start to cry, ok?

…(what else?)
T helping friends? Building? Like when someone knocks it down, you will help build it…
G like you could already tie your shoe… (can you already tie your shoe Graeme?) Yes. (What will you learn then? If you already know how to tie, to read, what new things do you think you’ll learn?)
G. well, I’ll be as big as a first grader. I’ll get bigger. And when they’re sick you’ll go over and see what’s the matter.
S Well. But no. You know, when you sleep you have to get taller and taller and taller? And you get older and older and older? They go together. And then when you’re taller and older then little can read stories to them just like the second graders read a story to us.

So, what did I learn from this conversation? I expected to hear a lot of excitement about learning for learning's sake. While this conversation was happening, I was feeling frustrated that the children didn't seem to be on topic, since no one was talking about school, per se. How silly that was! What was happening then, happens often- my expectations were coloring my perception of the dialog, and I wasn't listening to the children fully.

This is why keeping traces of the children's work is so important, and (for me) why a reflective practice of teaching is so exciting. Upon reflection, I realized that the children are firmly situated in their own place. They are concerned about things that are important to people who are 5...people who are just beginning to understand other people's points of view, and who are starting to learn how to maintain friendships. They are both excited and worried about the changes their bodies are going through -losing teeth, growing larger. Mostly I am reminded that as a teacher, it is very important that I remember to listen for my own point of view in dialog like this, and to separate it from those of the children.