Collaboration on day one

 

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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!

 

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One thought on “Collaboration on day one

  1. I used to love doing challenges like these in those first days, & you’re so right, the revelations are profound. I remember taking notes on many of the kinds of observations you mentioned, & taking notes for my own goals for each student as I observed their needs. Lovely that you began with this, Tara, & enjoyed reading your thoughts about it. Happy to hear it was a great first day!

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