You see I didn't have a conventional teacher in my early childhood either...she never had any teaching experience nor did she have an idea that she was empacking my future career choice. She went to a secondary school called Misinheimer School for Girls and her dream was to be a biologist but instead she became a mother of four girls and a stay at home mom (grandma and lucky for me, great grandmother). Viola Goodman was known to many by so many names but for most of us grand kids, she was Mawmaw Wow mainly because she said that she taught us all how to say the word but I truly think that it is because she was wonderful at showing each one of us our own "wow" factor in life. You see, she never told you what it was but she gave you plenty of opportunities to learn it for yourself and make it your own. This all of 5 foot even woman stood taller in many of our eyes more than anyone else has or ever will. So now what does this have to do with early childhood and the messy teaching strategies that I live and want my kids to experience while they are with me. For that, let's dive into the "Mawmaw Wow" way of teaching.
To fully see this interesting way of teaching, you have to experience it...I mean really experience it!!! No holding back and allowing everything to happen...all the cause and effects that happen for the reason of learning. Let's look at some great examples of this...
This little guy found a small boulder on our playground near our natural creek area then proceeded to take it over to our hill slide to see what would happen. Where's the adult telling him what he is suppose to learn or how to do it? Out of the picture but always watching to see what he will find out.
With a friend, they learn about what happens with gravity and heavy objects. They switched rocks to see whose went faster and then they discovered that they go farther if they are bigger. Gravity is a huge concept but they have a great start. Just like when Mawmaw let me help with drawing water from the old well....it's a light bucket going in but it's heavy when it comes out with water. Gravity, weight, measurements...Wow!!!
Why do we need seeds? How do we get them? These kids are taking the kernels off the ear of ornamental corn. They had to figure out where it was the easiest to pull it with just two fingers. They asked why we were saving them, when do we plant them, and do we need to use all of the kernels (seeds) that we are getting off the ear. I can't tell you how many times that I was in a garden when I was staying with Mawmaw in the summer and how many seeds she collected. I think there are still some of her saved seeds in my mom's freezer. That's the amazement of learning....Wow!!!
Oh I could never forget the love of cooking and all the time spent in the kitchen with her or all of our family. One thing that I've never perfected was her bread making. Once a week, she always made homemade light bread. Hot and steamy straight from the oven with butter maybe apple butter but gone in seconds. She took hours (even days because she had to feed the starter) making it and we took just seconds to devour it. Well, I may not have her bread making ability but we cook like crazy in our class because the observations of how things change, evaporation, yeast fermation, liquids vs. solids, etc are concepts that they may not know the vobulary for right now but it gives them a stepping stone for their future.
The kids love seeing the bread raise and giving us reasons why it does that, what happened to the liquids, where did the flour go, but most of all, why do we smell the bread when it is in the bread machine. Several children woke up from nap saying that they dreamed of bread...funny thing is that I still dream of the days spent making bread with Mawmaw Wow. Talk about similarities...Wow!!!
For close to sixteen years, I have made this profession my passion but always knowing that there was one thing that I wanted to do every day of my teaching career...Give my children that "Mawmaw Wow factor". What she gave to me were small things in her eyes...letting me raid her attic for dress up clothes, picking cucumbers from her garden then making pickles, taking care of the many animals she had and how they are people too, teaching me little tricks for remember my math (I still do my nines times tables backwards) but to me they are the small things that I want to share with every child who has me as a teacher. So early childhood teaching will always be "WOW" to my kid's eyes and minds.