Celebration: The absence of tears

This may seem like a strange thing to celebrate – but this week I celebrate an absence of tears. Two days in a row my students worked on some challenging pentominoes activities. Working with new materials and exercising visual spatial skills was not easy for many of us. If we had tried this in the first month of school, yikes . . . Yet, instead of tears of frustration, pleas for help or giving up, the room was full of quiet, calm and determination.

Celebration:  The absence of tears There's a Book for That

The task? Create rectangles with an area of 20 square units (4 pentominoes) or 15 square units (3 pentominoes) and squares with an area of 25 square units (5 pentominoes).

Celebration:  The absence of tears There's a Book for That

The strategies? Perseverance. Talk. Trial and error. Time

Celebration:  The absence of tears There's a Book for That

Day 2 was easier than Day 1.

Celebration:  The absence of tears There's a Book for That

Slowly we began to get used to how the shapes fit together.

Celebration:  The absence of tears There's a Book for That

When we made a rectangle or square we recorded our results – listing the letters of the pentominoes. And then, often, we helped some others. Helping is harder than it seems. How exactly do you talk someone through placing these shapes together? Lots of new language and descriptive vocabulary was being shared.

“Flip that one over.”

“Rotate it.”

“Think of it like an “L” in the corner.”

“Remember each side has 5 squares.”

“Think what space you are missing when you look at pieces.”

“Shift it around.”

“Try a different orientation.”

“Can you visualize the pieces you are missing?”

Celebration:  The absence of tears There's a Book for That

In more than 30 minutes of “work time” each day, some students didn’t once figure out how to successfully make a square or a rectangle without some assistance. Not once. And yet, they kept trying. Continuously. Without complaint. Hopefully. Focussed.

30 minutes and still trying. Still trying when others are shouting, “Got one!” Still trying when you believe you have one too and then you don’t. Still trying when you do get one because you had some hints and then you try a different solution on your own and it just won’t work. Still trying because you believe that eventually you will be able to do it. Still trying because on Monday, you just might be able to . . .

Celebration:  The absence of tears There's a Book for That

I am celebrating that I feel June in the air. Not June as in warm afternoons, end of the year energy. No. June as in confidence. Risk taking. A learning community that embraces faith as much as skills.

I celebrate this perseverance. The absence of tears. The presence of effort – pure, supported, trusted.

Thank you to Ruth Ayres and the #celebratelu community! Being part of a community that regularly shares gratitude and celebrations truly transforms my weeks.


22 thoughts on “Celebration: The absence of tears

  1. I felt myself cheering for the kids as they persevered. I hope they all finally figured out at least one. It is inspiring to see them work together and encourage one another as they use quite sophisticated vocabulary.

  2. Celebrating effort! Here’s to a successful Monday. I love how they coached each other. Such a fabulous skill to learn. I think I would probably be in tears given this task (definitely not in my comfort zone), but with your modeling and encouragement, maybe even I could do it!

  3. I can imagine that several adults would give up even before they have given the task a try. Impressive how the kids, their mindset, their vocabulary grow over the year. I can hear your teacher heart sing.

  4. Yes! This is what successful math learning looks like! Before I became a TL, teaching math was my favourite thing. Most people don’t understand that math is all about never giving up and realizing that you can most often find your own kind of solution, and it’s fun too!

  5. Feeling June in confidence. Your students will end this year with newfound pride in their accomplishments.

  6. This is so wonderful Carrie! I dare say that with my spacial difficulties, I might have cried with this assignment 🙂 You are obviously fostering a community of risk taking and persevering. I love this post.

  7. It’s wonderful that you have created a space where students are okay with not being perfect immediately. A place that honors the trying & lets them experiment and even fail without worrying that they are failures. This is so powerful!

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