Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Reflective Community

A few weekends ago two Project Coach coaches, Kiana Figueroa and Zachery Johnson, took time out of their Saturday to join me at Smith College’s Museum of Art. With the help of Smith Volunteers, the three of us set-up a drawing project for families visiting the Museum on Family Day. As kids and their parents or teachers began to pour into our room, Zach and Kiana met everyone with a smile and choices: the kids could trace their shadows onto the paper, draw the projected artwork, or combine the image and ever-changing shadow. Zach and Kiana observantly assisted newcomers, helped those who were struggling, and rolled finished work for families on their way to the next Museum project. I couldn’t help but notice both coaches working beautifully with the variety and amount of kids and adults streaming through the project.

The next Thursday Project Coach session, I was scrambling to break down just how we could reflect on our teaching experience in a meaningful way. I proposed a written reflection, but Kiana had a different idea. “What if we paint a reflection? We could paint one half of a sheet of paper, fold it, and have a reflection on the other side.” Kiana was proposing a visual reflection. Not only did it fit wonderfully, but it was much more interesting than paragraphs and it gave us the opportunity to spend time together in a relaxed but productive way.

I realized that to reflect on an experience didn’t require a certain formality or structure. Both coaches wanted to reflect in conversation and through the making process.They wanted to engage in a discussion of what we experience in and out of Project Coach, and I was there to listen and contribute my own story.

Between Family day and our Thursday reflection, I learned quite a bit from Zach and Kiana. We shared the qualities of our many communities: our families, our schools, our neighborhoods, our friends. We considered the differences and similarities between our communities, and the effect they have not only us, but every individual. The experience guided us into a natural reflection on what it means to be a member of and contribute to any community.

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