We Are All Beginners

I had grand plans, this summer. I would create art, progress on the ukulele, nap, travel, read, learn, and refresh my body, mind, and spirit. I haven’t done nearly as much of any of those things as I might have liked, but I have done some, and it’s been wonderful!

Lately, I’ve developed a love for watercolors. I’m no pro, but I enjoy dabbling. I think my love affair started when, on a rainy day, unable to hike, I wandered into a local bookstore in search of a literary diversion. Instead, of a good book, I discovered a wall of art supplies — real, professional grade art supplies. Paint, paper, watercolors, pencils, pens, rulers, paint brushes, and more! No lie, for a moment, my knees went weak! I adore creating art, and all the tools and supplies connected to it. It brings me great joy to simply touch beautiful art tools and materials. I left the store with a simple watercolor travel kit, and a watercolor paper block. I was hooked.

The other day I discovered these beauties. 37635898_10217065659493192_6164546794509303808_o

If it were appropriate to describe watercolor as delicious, these would be the ones! Of course, perhaps there are other, more expensive, more professional ones that are even more delicious, but for me, I was satisfied.

I enjoyed looking at, and admiring them for a few days. Then, as luck would have it, I found this wonderful artist online — Watercolor Wednesdays. She has some fabulous videos on youtube.

I watched a few, and was impressed by her process and product, as well as the spirit she brought to the table. I decided to break out my supplies and give it a go. Here are my products from today.

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Nice, right? Not perfect by any means, but I think I am beginning to understand more of the essence of watercolors. By that I mean, I am beginning to understand a bit more about how they work, and what they are meant to do, as well as how I might work with them.

It was a fascinating experience to take a breath and jump in. Don’t get me wrong, it was mildly daunting. But, it was fun!

In one of the first lessons I watched, she said she doesn’t worry about the end result.  “Really?” I thought. “You aren’t concerned about the end result?!!!” I decided to set aside my skepticism, embrace her point of view, and not worry about the product. Instead, I would just paint. Removing my focus and feelings from the final product, I was more able to be in the moment. Existing more fully in each moment as it happened, I was more able to experiment, observe, notice, learn, and do.

It was fun, but not particularly easy. It’s tough sometimes, to allow myself to be a beginner. As a beginner, I’m vulnerable. I must embrace my foibles as well as my less than perfect products. I have to be brave, and not fret about what others may think about me, my process, or my product. Perhaps most difficult, I must not be hard on myself as I experience all of the difficulty of learning something new. If I can manage to do all that, or at least some of it, I am more able to enter into the joy of discovery, and the exquisite, child-like joy of one who is discovering something new and fantabulous!

As I sat and looked at my finished paintings, I had an epiphany!

This is what I ask my students to do — every moment of every school day. Try new things. Embrace being a beginner. Be brave. Celebrate your successes, no matter how small. Don’t worry what others think. Don’t fret. Be kind to yourself. Keep trying. Be in the moment. Experience the joy!

Wow, right?!

It makes me think differently about the work educators and students do every day. It’s profound. Learning to read, doing math, writing stories, interacting with each other. It’s all like my experience with the watercolors. We are often beginners, and that can be intimidating. But it is also powerful. There is joy and incredible potential in being a beginner. Perhaps even more joy and potential than in being an expert.

I have a lot to think about!

I want to take this epiphany and let it help me grow as an educator and lead learner in my learning space. For now, I am going to think about how I might give my girls more time and opportunities to experience the joy and potential of being a beginner. I want to think how I might shine the light more brightly on the ways I learn, struggle, try, persevere, find joy in little things, and embrace me as me.  And, I want to find time for them to be in the moment — able to explore and try, without fretting about the product. Hopefully this will enable them to more fully understand and experience the essence of whatever it is they are exploring.

I’m excited to see where this light will lead me — and you!

Comments, thoughts, and stories of your own journey are always welcome!

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T4D – Teach for Delight!

While reading Tom and David Kelley’s book – Creative Confidence – I came upon Design for Delight. D4D (Design for Delight) is the brainchild of Intuit’s Kaaren Hansen. D4D involves “evoking positive emotion by going beyond customer expectations in delivering ease and benefit so people buy more and tell others about the experience.” (p. 176)

As I read, I immediately thought – OH!!! T4D! How fabulous would that be?

T4D

T4D … Teach for DELIGHT!

It’s an interesting twist isn’t it? Not teach for meaning. Not teach for skills. Not teach for understanding. Not teach for learning.Teach for delight!!! Cool, creative and fabulous, right?!?!!!

Now, before our educator heads explode, let me reiterate – for something to be truly creative it must be useful and appropriate. Meaning, understanding and skills are essential parts of teaching and learning. Therefore, they remain an integral part of my vision of T4D. So, let’s revisit. T4D is cool, creative and fabulous, right?!!!

Think about it. What if our focus, as educators, was delight? What if our goal and intention was for all constituents to experience delight in the learning/teaching journey.  Wouldn’t that be amazing?

Delighted students would engage, think and learn more deeply. They would discover the pleasure and satisfaction of learning, questioning, experimenting and even struggling. Hopefully they would seek to know and understand far beyond our classrooms. Delighted parents, might partner, more fully, in their children’s learning. And we, delighted educators, could, breathe, smile, and engage in the process of learning and teaching with increased fervor and purpose.

AND WE WOULD ALL BE DELIGHTED!!!

Yes, I know, I’m yelling, lol. I’m yelling because T4D  is a concept I’d like everyone to hear and embrace!

T4D. Increase the joy, and deep learning. Teach for Delight!

Resources:

Creative Confidence: Unleashing The Creative Potential Within Us All by Tom Kelley and David Kelley, 2013, Crown Business Publishing