One of the children asked where they could find a pencil. It was an interesting question since pencils are readily available along with erasers and a wide selection of writing materials. The child shared they were looking for “a great pencil” to do their work.
When working with children, often we are not aware of the motivation for questions they ask us. As an educator and co-learner our role is to be present and mindful of the moment and try to pick up the subtle clues of what challenge the child is seeking to solve.
After finding the perfect pencil, the child asked if I would like to see the work that required a special pencil. “That would be great” was my reply as Iwondered what the work could be. The child revealed they were creating comic books and shared two newly created books made of plain white paper with colorful green covers that were slightly larger than the main body of the book.
When the children invite us to be part of their working life we have an opportunity to hear their ideas, watch the implementation, and listen as the children share their thinking. Being a part of the learning journey is always an insightful experience
On the comic book pages were pencil drawings and printed words. The child asked if I would like to hear them read the first completed book. “Absolutely”I replied, as the child opened the book to the first page. On this page was written a dedication to an author and comic book creator. The child explained that the author was their inspiration for creating comic books.
Seeing the book and then being invited to go deeper into the work and thought process of the child was engaging, as the story about their creative process was unfolding. Sharing work is not always a priority for school age children. Some of the time they keep their deepest thoughts about work and life concealed, protecting themselves from the feedback they receive from peers and adults.
The child started reading the comic book, pausing to highlight specific drawings on each page while explaining the process that went into the creation of the story. After the reading was complete, the child shared they were going to start work on the next book and this is why they needed to choose a pencil carefully. Quickly, the child changed focus and started to draw new characters for their next book.
This was a small interaction but an important one. It was an opportunity for an educator to connect on a deeper level with a child and build trust. These connections with children build the bonds that form the learning community. This is a process of inquiry and communication that happens over and over during the course of a school year as the children share a little bit of themselves through our work together.