Thursday, April 23, 2015

Gap - Don't FALL.

Consider these three little letters:

G    A    P

When I was a kid, the clothing store known as the GAP had a commercial that suggested in song that we all "Fall into the GAP."  It didn't sound safe, but we all were drawn, inexplicably, to the mall, and took our turn fake-tripping over the threshold into the store while singing the jingle, ending the last word on the lowest note we could hit without choking ourselves.    The GAP was a big deal when I was a kid, and their clothing was something that we begged for as gifts from parents who couldn't really see the difference between GAP and Lemon Frog from Sears.

 Mind the Gap, Consider the Gap, Gap, Gap, Gap....

I've been thinking a bit about gaps today -- first when I worked with my first graders, who collectively are missing so many teeth that we should all celebrate the far-off timing for the arrival of corn on the cob, and later when I came home to the blog entry by my friend Beth Leidolf.   Beth references one of my favorite phrases from our friends across the pond, "Mind the Gap", as she muses on the importance of identifying gaps in student learning through reflection, observation, and assessment, and then filling them in an appropriate time frame, rather than waiting until it may be too late to make sense of the learning.  (Beth, by the way, is one of the Te@chthought gurus who sucked me into this world of blogging.  Take the time to read her thoughts!)

one of my favorite British Tube warning signs.
In addition to the potential of gaps in learning, I'd like to humbly suggest the importance of minding the gaps within the course of a day.  Sometimes those gaps are teachable moments that are totally off the grid of the original lesson plan, yet lead to a place of wonder.  Sometimes those gaps are actually signaling everyone about the importance of some down time that can be used for the all-important process of incubation, allowing students, (and sometimes their teachers), a breathing space to process, refine, and revise their thinking before moving forward.

It's a tough thing to do these days -- to intentionally slow or stop the train of curriculum flying down the track -- to make better sense of the process and enjoy the journey.  These are they days they'll remember, if we let them take the time to think about what they're learning.