Written by DAREarts Teachers Geneviève Anthony and Valerie Kostyniuk.
Lead teacher Geneviève Anthony smiled from ear to ear as she led a group of 24 Grade 4 students into the DAREarts teaching space this morning. They really are excellent, our most recent group of nine and ten-year-old delegates. All day long, whether practicing how to respectfully greet someone by making eye-contact and speaking clearly, supporting one-another to successfully complete a Renaissance-themed geography puzzle, or discussing how post-medieval Europeans borrowed knowledge from Asia and Islamic Middle East, the group of Grade 4’s demonstrated their desire to learn. As they made exciting discoveries by bravely pushing themselves to ask hard questions and try new things, our delegates exceeded the expectations most have for such young kids. Judging by those ear to ear grins they were giving us as the piled onto the bus at the end of the day, I think they may have even exceeded their expectations for themselves.
Discipline leads to confidence. It may feel uncomfortable at first but the sense of accomplishment makes us feel like anything is possible.
Action can be scary but after it makes one feel strong.
One of the most amazing parts of today was watching 24 nine and ten year olds organize themselves to create, serve, enjoy and clean up after a sit-down meal given only three directives: 1. Make a meal for everyone using only what you see on this table. 2. Include everyone; because we are a team. 3. Go where you’re needed. For an uncomfortable moment after we teachers stepped back, the students literally stood silently, not moving. For a second, I wondered if we were expecting too much of them, but I didn’t worry for long. The students were soon delegating tasks, asking for advice, combining foods together, setting up the dining space and, eventually, sitting down to share a delicious salad, all with ample Please and thank you’s and without isolating anyone. Incredible.
This too: right before we left, a little girl who was seated next to me in the circle while Geneviève wrapped up the last lesson of the day leaned over and said, quietly, “Miss Valerie, is that teacher someone famous?”
“Hmmm, she’s not famous,” I answered, “but she is excellent.”
The girl grinned, put her hand above her head and pointed at herself, using the DAREarts hand-sign for “excellence”.
“She’s excellent,” she said, “just like us!”
The “bus homework” of putting their chins to their chests and reflecting quietly on their day, was a testament to how excellent the group is as they smiled to themselves with closed eyes and sank blissfully into the seats of the bus.