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So today when we arrived, Chris let us know that the AIR grant had made the school newsletter - with some great photos of the parent and child group from the sensory walk.
I felt much more relaxed today, having done both the drama and the make and do for goat yesterday with Rachel. Our first session in Banksia was an ambitious one - we were going to combine drama and make and do as we only had one session with them. Felt like Franky and I worked well together. Wonderful to have the enthusiasm of Maureen and Suzanne. We instinctively began using the mirrors from the beginning of the session and this seemed to really enhance the children's experiences. Alex, Jack, Samuel and Alex Ridge seemed to engage with both the drama and the making aspect.
Next session was the make and do session with Rm 2 and Bluegum. It was great just to be able to focus on the make and do. Even though there were only 2 kids from Bluegum present in the session - it still felt like a large group - 8 of them. Learning from the session with Banksia we also used the mirrors throughout the session. After we finished making our masks we invited the children to join us in a dance of the goat. Dawn, Harry and Katie were enthusiastic in joining us on the floor dancing. Other students danced from their seats. Again I felt like the pretending aspect was easier today after our session yesterday. It will be interesting to see what happens with Rooster and Donkey - whether this aspect of pretending will get easier.
Final session for the day at Belmay - again we combined drama with Make n Do. We had an hour and this seemed ample enough time for this group to complete both tasks. I was interested to see (with the exception of Lachlan) how easy it seemed for the Belmay group to pretend. My sense is that they love the stuff. This is also what we had observed with Tim's music class and the blood song.
Had a good chat with Melinda about the application of our residency learnings for other schools. We talked about what elements would be essential in a pre-show kit (songs, 2d book, bag book) and what other resources schools might like to choose ( drama incursions, make and do lesson plans). Melinda pointed out that schools often planned far in advance - so the previous year was the best time to try and plan a tour. On the other hand we agreed that the schools would really appreciate something made especially for PMLD kids. Not sure about the best way to investigate this.....
After two weeks of observing the 5 classes we will be working with I am starting to become familiar with some of the kids. It's really interesting how that sense of being overwhelmed and not understanding begins to recede and things start to emerge more clearly. I can see how the more time I spend at the school the more I will begin to understand how different students communicate and to interpret what they are saying. I am amazed and impressed by the dedication and skill of all the teachers and staff I have observed. Watching Anna communicate with her pre-primary students and persist in getting them to communicate back to her was very moving. The sitting to standing sequence in Bluegum was so interesting for me and really intersected with some of the Body Mind Centring (BMC) Developmental patterns work I have been engaging in. I also really enjoyed watching Bluegum's "Dinosaur cave" lesson last week and Sarah's storytelling with Room 2. It was striking how effective Rachel's approach of initiating engagement through play via the pterosaur puppet in Bluegum. I really enjoyed observing (and participating) in the music classes last Friday. The students and staff had a ball. Bec was having many "Aha" moments and we already started to see how we could adapt our performance to make it more participatory and engaging. The cooking class in Deanne's was also really fun. I began to trust that we will be able to conduct sessions effectively with the active support of Carson St staff. How the staff follow the lead of the person giving the class and model with the students participation is so supportive and effective. I asked Deanne if we could ask for assitance in preparing and gathering resources when we get to the stage of programming our ideas. She said yes. This will make an enormous difference to what we are able to achieve.
We had a great artist meeting yesterday morning. We decided to install a sensory walk in the assembly area next wednesday and invite everyone in the school to participate, including students, educational and ancillary staff. We think this will be a great initiation for everyone into the AIR project. We also decided that each class we are working with will get to plant a bulb as a kind of symbol of the mutual growth that we can all look forward to in this project.
Ideas starting to "ping" - Feels like we will still need to keep paring back on what we will have time to achieve while still being able to reflect and review effectively.