Last week, the entire NL-S first grade took a walking tour of New London. They were on a continuous nature walk on the way from the school to downtown and toured area businesses along the way. I got the opportunity to talk to them about what I do as an artist & designer, then we folded paper boats together. Afterward, they got to launch them into the Mill Pond to see them float. It was wonderful.
This whole experience took me on a fast track from absolutely terrified to extremely joyful.
I am not a teacher, so the prospect of 125 first-graders coming to visit in waves definitely scared me. But it really wasn’t bad at all. Once we got through the random, shouted reports of their nature walk up to that point (sightings of turtles, feathers and dead fish), they listened, they asked questions, they followed directions and they got most of my jokes. A wise teacher-friend had passed me some excellent advice just before their visit: One step at a time. It worked like a charm, and it was FUN.
First-graders are so sweet, open and eager to learn. But there are some who are unsure, too. I had one little guy who kept handing me his folded paper saying, “I can’t do this part.” So I would say, “Sure you can,” then show him how to do it halfway and make him finish it. He did this three times before I finally said, “You need to come spend a day with me–I would never let you say ‘I can’t.’ ever again.” He looked me right in the eyes and smiled as big as anything, and folded his own boat. I am sure I did not fix this habit of his, but we made a tiny connection that still echoes in me, if not him.
Thank you, first grade teachers, for sharing these little treasures with me for a bit. I enjoyed it all!