Ms. Sadie's 10 Life Lessons (as learned from 1st graders)
by Sadie Yarrington
It's been a whirlwind of a 10 weeks at Alta Vista Elementary. This past week we culminated the residency with a showing of their skills and stories for their parents. It was an exciting day for all involved! Thinking back on the residency, I realize that the students taught me just as much as I was able to teach them. It would only be fair to share what life lessons 1st graders have for us all!
1. What is the best way to cure a bad day? Smile & boogie on down (preferably with 100 wild 1st graders)
2. Sometimes we all just need to stand still and take a deep breath. Just when I thought they couldn't be tamed, they'd surprise me with how quickly they could refocus. The simple act of pausing and taking a deep breath all together brought clarity and ease to the room. Although it's ironic, sometimes we just need to be told when to breathe.
3. Let our bodies do the talking occasionally. I found that as soon as we stripped away the option to speak & vocalize with one another, the arguments, bickering and confusion disappeared. Having 6 year olds creatively work in partners is a tall order. Rather than reaching disagreements in discussion, they had to practice following and leading one another with their bodies. Those who typically struggle at communicating and working in pairs began to blossom and discover their strengths in non-verbal communication.
4. When we have control of our personal space we are more inclined to share it with others. There comes a time when we all need our space bubbles. In order to create a safe and welcoming space, space bubbles were always active at Alta Vista Elementary. Because we had established this for each student, when it came time to work in partners they were more aware, caring and respectful of each other and the space they shared. In short, if we all feel safe in our own space those around us will too!
5. There is beauty in simplicity. Enough said.
6. Be flexible. Every now and then I'd have a class that needed something different than what was planned. Perhaps a class needed a team building exercise instead of a cool-down. Some classes needed more time to investigate the various levels of shape making rather than moving on to traveling through space. It's important to have clear plan in mind for each class. It's also important to be willing to throw those plans out the window and let instinct take you for a spin. These were some of my most successful and exciting classes!
7. Trust in what you're doing. If you believe it and commit to it, so will those around you. (Even if it's slithering around like snakes, freezing like ice sculptures or dancing your way through pirate land).
8. Ask questions. If you ever run out of questions then you're not listening well enough. There is always more to learn and more to share!
9. Gain respect through giving respect. We shouldn't have to ask for respect, it comes to those deserving of it!
10. Everybody can DANCE. One of the most memorable moments from the past 10 weeks occurred after reading a Thank You note from one of the students. He was a rambunctious, lively young stud who came eager to move each class. I could tell he was a handful in the classroom. The end of his note read "I've always thought dancing was for girls but you have taught me everyone is allowed to dance. Thank you for that". The most important lesson we each walked away with was understanding that we can ALL dance. So move, groove and share a little more love with the rest of the world!
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Invert/ED is Invertigo's education program. We are currently working on a 10-week residency with 4 first-grade classes through the wonderful Music Center Education Program. More information on Invert/ED can be found here.