I witnessed sheer joy in my classroom last Wednesday.
My 6th grade students-middle schoolers- were playing games.
Games that requiring reading directions.
Games that necessitated taking turns.
Games needing clarification and compromise.
Games requiring setup and clean up.
Games of chance.
Games of strategy.
Games of skill.
Games for two people and games for many more.
All of this during the school day, in place of regularly scheduled core classes.
Yes, I have English standards to teach.
Many, in fact.
However, I don't teach standards; I teach students.
In addition to standards, my students need to know how to socialize: how to talk to each other. They need strategies that help them compromise and problem solve peer disputes. My students need practice asking for clarification and explaining their creative thinking. While socializing with friends, my students need empathy for those seemingly left out, and a desire to include everyone.
Being allowed to play without teacher control or interference, my students learned more about kindness and collaboration than I could have imagined.
I saw this quote on Facebook today from Herding Kate in Kindergarten, and it echoes what I witnessed on Wednesday's Global School Play Day.
"You can discover more about a child in an hour of play than in a year of standardized tests."
I sure learned a lot about my students by observing them through play, by talking to them as they played, and in some cases, playing along with them. I learned more than from data generated by bubbling in answers on a multiple choice test.
On the Global School Play Day, I deepened connections with my students and discovered something new about each one.
My students and I participated last year, and I plan to do it again for many years to come.
There's something so refreshing about breaking from the ordinary and providing an experience.
It's one they won't soon forget.