When Walls Fall…

By Kaileigh Reed

As a new teacher this year, I was eager to take in all of Little Owl – its philosophy, ways, rhythms, and flow. I especially was filled to meet all the new faces I would spend much time with.

As the months flew by, and I started to feel the comfort of settling into a new space, I found myself reading books to the children often. All sorts of books were read, like Creepy Pair of Underpants and Goodnight Moon. However, the books that would undoubtedly raise a cheer amongst the kids consistently were construction books. I turned the page, and before I could read the name of the truck, I heard a voice, sometimes voices in unison exclaiming, “dump truck!” or “front loader!”  The interest was high, and one would not doubt it with the gleam in the children’s eyes.

Construction did not just stay in the books we read. The children brought it to their play. From making forts out fabric to digging holes for swimming pools in the sandbox, the children were at work. The big orange cones in the backyard served as construction site boundaries. At times, the classroom and yard were scattered with lime green vests, white hard hats, and voices exclaiming, “I’m doing construction!” When inspiration ran low, all the children had to do was peer through the mud kitchen and in front of them was an actual construction site: Little Owl’s new building.                                                                                           

As the year progressed, so did construction and all sorts of sounds. Some days, I would walk into a nap time filled with a resounding buzz that was not only heard but felt as it vibrated throughout the building. The pounding and drilling, the beeping that came from all kinds of trucks moving back and forth, the clank of metal against metal, the shrill of high pitched noises, the piercing fire alarms set off, the blaring sounds of machinery, these became the boisterous soundtrack of our lives here at Little Owl. With time, I learned to accept this loud reality, and when I did, I realized the words in the construction books we read so many times had leapt off the page to become a tangible experience for the children.

I’ll never forget the counter lined up with children eagerly observing a machine knock down a wall- right in our backyard. As I watched the children marvel over the experience, I wondered to myself: perhaps the construction is a metaphor for the work done here at Little Owl. I thought back to the bare bones of the construction this past September. Before anything could be built, a foundation had to be laid. Before children could grow and blossom, do they need a solid foundation on which to stand?

I thought about the dates set for the new building to open and how completion never met our expectations. Just like construction, how often do we as teachers have to surrender our expectations and let children experience moments of revelation and growth in perhaps moments that appear messy and chaotic? How often do we as teachers grow and learn from peculiar, unexpected moments we find ourselves in? I think back to the day we watched the wall fall down. I wondered if I let my walls dissolve, will I make room for something new, even beautiful to grow?

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