I had been terrified and exhilarated about my first LEGO Art class last night, primarily because I’ve NEVER taught a group of kids by myself before. I was told in advance that there would be five students who were between the ages of 8 and 10. I was excited by my ethnically diverse class that included one female, which I was thrilled about!
In preparation for last night’s class, I had spent months building LEGO art pieces and lesson plans, (and changing them too). For the first class last night I had planned for the kids to build mosaics, which I thought would be easiest for them to do. BUT as soon as the first kid arrived I knew the night probably wouldn’t go as planned. I’ll call this student Jim. He came in with his mom and as soon as he saw the big box of LEGO bricks on the table he pushed his mom to the side, almost knocking her down and made a dash for the box. After his mom ran after him and told him he’d have to wait til class started, he pushed her again and began rummaging through the box. I asked him his name, then called him by name and got him to sit in a chair with a few bricks to play with while we waited for the other four kids to arrive. That worked!! Whew!!
The four others arrived, and included another autistic kid, but he was much more verbal than Jim. In the teacher prep orientation I was told that any “instruction” given to the students needed to be less than 10 minutes in the 60 min class period. I had printed out pictures of mosaics and brought samples of some I had made to ensure my instruction was brief!
But right away I knew we probably wouldn’t be building many mosaics, and even though that turned out to be true, the class was awesome!! They built some amazing things with the kits of 65 pieces I issued to them which they get to keep at the end of the four week class. Jim only speaks a few words, but built some amazing things (more than any of the other kids) and did so at break neck speed.
What I learned from the class was that kids can be really wonderful to each other. We hear so much about bullying, and I was worried about how the three kids would treat the two others who were “different” than they were. It couldn’t have gone better. Maybe it was the magic of the LEGO bricks or maybe these are just great kids! They all marveled at each other’s projects, even without having to speak words… And I easily redirected Jim if he got too aggressive by pushing and tugging when he wanted LEGO pieces that someone else was using or wanted us to see what he was building. I was overwhelmed with happiness that the three kids were so inclusive of their two classmates. Several times they gave Jim the LEGO piece he wanted from their collections, without even giving it a second thought. When the hour was over, they all said to each other “see you next week” and some of them even hugged.
Jim wouldn’t say goodbye to me as he left, but when I asked him if he had fun, he loudly said “YES” and gave me a bear hug!! In the five pieces below (one from each kid), I’d say we may not have built the mosaics I had intended, but I think we built something better. We built community!! Can’t wait til next week’s class!
How wonderful, Loretta, on so very many counts. Kids helping kids. Kids unpretentiously enjoying an experience of using their hands and their hearts to create colorful things. You, as leader/teacher/instructor, being able to let go of your plan so to be present with where your students were. And the building of community. Again, how so very grandly wonderful! Kudos!
Thanks Paul!! I was kinda worried, but I’m happy I’m willing to get out of my comfort zone so much lately, to experience situations and opportunities I wouldn’t normally be exposed to. I pray that I continue to be open to these experience and I’m proud that I didn’t let my usual by the book and plan teaching method stop me from reaching the students wherever they may be. Thanks for your support!!