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A Matter of Trust

No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it.
H. E Luccock (1885-1960), professor at Yale Divinity School

Dear Exchange Community,

I admire early educators who trust children. I admire administrators who trust educators. And I admire college instructors who trust students.

In the book, Developing PeopleMargie Carter urges administrators to “treat your staff as you would have them treat children.” She explains:

“I’m continually surprised at the contradiction between how directors plan and respond to staff and what they want teachers to be doing with the children. Whether or not you have studied adult learning theory, your knowledge of good practice for children can be translated into appropriate practices for educating teachers.”

Last week, Melissa M. Burnham, Professor and Department Chair, College of Education and Human Development, University of Nevada, Reno, sent us an email that I believe perfectly illustrates what it means to trust students. She graciously agreed that I could share it with all of you. She wrote:

“This semester, I used Pelo and Carter’s From Teaching to Thinking: A Pedagogy for Reimagining Our Work in my advanced preschool curriculum class at the University of Nevada, Reno. It was a risk. I knew students would find the material a bit challenging and some of the chapters were less applicable to teachers in training than to pedagogical leaders. Nevertheless, I persisted. My students jumped in beside me, and off we went. We dove into the book together, with students engaging in weekly journaling and discussion exercises together. They grappled, they were challenged, and they were inspired. It was exactly the right book at the right time. Journals at the beginning of the semester were pretty sparse, as one might expect, but included insights that gave me hope that they were getting it. By the end, journals occasionally riffed for 5-6 single-spaced pages of wonderings and curiosities and imaginings and commitments. I am seriously blown away at the power of this book and a committed group of 40 students.

I have a lot more to say, and will likely be reflecting on and writing about this experience over the summer. It has truly been transformational for both me and the students…and I believe that the content will stay with them into their future classrooms. At the very least, I feel confident that they will treat children as wondrous humans and will be fierce advocates for meaningful learning.

So, thank you for publishing this book...You should see the final “exams”! I provided a creative option for final reflections and future commitments and wow did students not disappoint. Some painted, some wrote poetry, some drew, one created a playlist, one performed a song. There is so much more to share!”

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