Linda Rief opened the 2014 Boothbay Harbor Literacy Retreat with the Marshmallow Challenge, and I remember my first reaction to the task ahead vividly: panic. How, in a roomful of people I had barely met, would I be able to find a group, figure out the task, and learn to communicate effectively enough to get said task done. All in 18 minutes? But, we did. And, I learned so much about collaboration; how the very act of coming together to cooperate on a shared goal can transform a community. I resolved to try this out on the very first day of the new school year – before passing out class guidelines, the supply list, and all the other “first day forms”.
So, today my sixth graders had a chance to give the Marshmallow Challenge a go. As they worked, I made my way around the classroom, watching, listening, and learning.
I noticed who dove in right away, who took charge, who held back.
I noticed who listened to their teammates’ ideas, and who did not.
I heard the tones my kids used in their conversations, and what that may reveal about them.
I noticed how they pushed each others’ thinking, asked questions, challenged ideas…and also how some did not.
I noticed who persevered, who wavered, who simply gave up.
I paid attention to they way their initial trepidation gave way to comfort and then confidence.
I heard their laughter and their good humor – even when things were going terribly wrong.
And I knew that my kids were becoming a community of learners already – just 20 minutes into our first day together. We are on our way to a great year!