Sometime yesterday, possibly late last night, I read a piece on my computer, thought it was an Exchange Everyday piece, but I cannot find that in my e-mail, so now I seem to recollect it was on Facebook, maybe a post shared by Skillshare, I don’t know, but it was about Convergent and Divergent Thinking and how each is important, the detailed follow through and the open-ended exploration, and in this piece, the author suggested that we set aside time for each in our days, and be clear about which we are doing. The author also suggested that tension comes for us when we are shifting quickly between the two, divergent big picture thoughts and focussed accomplishment oriented ruminations, and I found it easy to relate to this, am in that place now, early Saturday morning, doing just what the author described, coming up with to do lists in my mind of all I hope to accomplish this weekend, groceries, bills, banking, correspondence, laundry, chores, social obligations, and at the same time reflecting on my week and making connections in the looser sense, putting my thoughts together, wondering about the future.

In allowing my mind to wander while lying in bed before going to sleep and after waking up I’m giving myself that dedicated time for divergent thinking. I brought my work bag upstairs last night, thinking I would like to lie in bed this morning and do my “desk work”, paying bills, preparing checks for deposit, entering statements into the computer. When I wake up this morning, though, I am thinking of dreams, of the water that first stained the ceiling of my dream bedroom, then began to drip, then shower, then pour out, until I saw a hose, which was detracted from what seemed to be the ground below, through a window or a wall or a ceiling, but which I could not trace. So, I woke up thinking about that dream, about trying to get help to diagnose and fix the leak, about trying to figure out what it was and what to do about it, to watching it move on and wondering how to repair the damage done. After thinking of dreams, I think of school and day care and writing and teaching and becoming staff at SVS and working on a series of meetups at Wheelock this year called Documentation Studios and wondering if I can come up with a documentation project to share, thinking about materials and space and context and the role of the young person and the adult, young child, tween, teen, teacher, staff, administrator, and I think of yesterday and working with pastels and colored pencils and large sheets of yellow paper in a room full of kids and teens and watching the piece emerge on my paper, which looked most to me like a uterus, which offended the young artist beside me, which it interested me that this word felt wrong to her, a part of the body, and I explained that the longer I worked on the color and the shapes, the more the piece seemed to be living, and she agreed, not geometric but organic, and that discussion was interesting, too, while all around kids explored the textures and colors of the materials, powder of chalk pastel, stick of oil pastel, slide of colored pencil, using not just these tools on the page, but also fingers, hands, even forearms and faces were colored by the end. We wiped up the tables, washed the smear off the door, put our drawings away. I packed up the art materials and put them in my cubby til next time I am there, along with the Keva planks, the Toobers and Zots, and the Knitting and the cans of tea I store there, and many pages of paper from School Meeting and Staff Training, lining the shelf. Two teen boys left with my game of Quarto, which they have been playing all week, and which I played awhile yesterday afternoon, with one of them, and with two other boys, one about ten, another a young teen newer to the game. For one part of the morning I was in the art room with kids using the Toobers and Zots, a foam building material I found while cleaning out the day care shelves, no good for babies who would eat it, which made the small kids playing with the stuff at SVS feel big, though they are the  littlest ones there, four and five and six and seven and eight. While we explored the styrofoam pieces another girl made a mask of things I’ve brought, a piece of fabric, some stuff from the recycle center, bits of lace, and her twin sister sewed a pocket on an apron and we all talked about whether the Toobers and Zots were an art material or a building material, like the fabric or the blocks, and agreed for now they were a building material, not to take home, but to take apart when we were done and to use again. Later I talked with the apron sewer about using a machine or hand sewing and about working in another room or in the art room, and she expressed her preference for hand sewing and for working in the art room where it was by then only her, so quiet I wondered if she would feel lonesome, but she didn’t, like the other girl on another day who preferred to come there to be alone after a hard JC where she held her worries in private and another girl who came to draw in the early morning, also happy to be alone, and I expressed to each of these girls how lucky we are to be in a school where being alone is an option, and I wondered how these girls will feel as women if and when they are alone, and my hope is they’ll feel strong.

But this morning, I wonder about introducing these materials, about how it changes things at school and about my role there, not as teacher, but as staff. The kids respond to materials, beads, looms, fabric, buttons, building toys, games, art supplies, but they also respond to the sharer. When I left the basket of Toobers and Zots on the table after we had put them away, no one took them out. I brought the Keva planks a few weeks ago and put them on the table of teens to share, and for a day they were popular. I put them in my cubby and offered to folks to take them out any time. No one did, but yesterday my hands were restless and I invited a young guy to build with me, which he did, and soon others were, too. The game guys are excited about Quarto and one of them invited me to play, and then I did, with him and others. The invitation and context are important as are the materials. I am fascinated by how this dynamic plays out at SVS, about how it compares to my experience with materials when I taught school and in the day care. I’m wondering if there is a way to do a project on this for the Documentation Studios that would work for SVS, not so much documenting children’s learning, but documenting my learning to become staff there, to find my role and place, to understand how sharing materials works there, to watch how students in that environment use something in particular or a variety of things.

I think a lot about what kids do there. So much of it is different from others schools, while much of it is similar to every day life, playing, talking, eating, organizing, making things. Some kids feel quick as can be, while others seem to move slowly, finding their way.

I also think a lot about what adults do at SVS. So much of that is also different from other schools, while much of it is the same. People keep asking me why it feels so good to work there, what it is I like about this job. It’s still hard for me to describe and say. One thing another staff member said to me while I was considering the job is that it feels so good to be an equal to the kids. I agree. Beyond that, I’ll let you know as I better understand. While a twenty percent pay cut hasn’t kept me from staying on this year, it is something that makes me think harder about what I do and why I do it and how I’ll continue, and if I can make it work.

Now, on to the convergent thinking parts of the day. I think I’ll take that work bag downstairs to the dining room or kitchen table where I always work, reserving the quiet space upstairs for dreaming and thinking big. Nice to have/take a Saturday morning to think and write here, but now I’ve got lots of real life chores to do. Look out laundry, dishes, banking, bills, and groceries, here I come.

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