Miquon Teacher Ben Coleman: Connecting with Children
Ben comes from a family of educators (both his parents were teachers) so perhaps it is in his blood. Ben recently moved to Philadelphia from Berkeley, California, where he was teaching at an urban Progressive school that he describes as similar to Miquon in many respects — an emphasis on process over product, a prioritization of intellectual and personal development over conventional academic progress, and a value placed on really knowing each student as an individual.
It is this last quality — really knowing each student — that Ben seems to value most about Miquon. Ben loves (and truly excels at) connecting with children through stories and conversation. He takes each child’s ideas seriously, acknowledging that although many adults see children as people still coming into being, they do not view themselves this way, seeing themselves as complete people already.
Recently teaching in the First Grade classroom, Ben is enjoying sprawling projects where the children co-create content, take initiative, make projects their own and do “real work.” During the 2015-16 school year, the classroom was caught up in this spirit creating the layout, menu, pricing, and employee roles of their very own a restaurant.
Ben also appreciates Choice Time at Miquon, a part of the day where children make their own decisions about an activity of their choosing — be it going to the music room, visiting the library, or enjoying unstructured free play outside. This authentic way of helping children develop the independence and confidence that comes with giving children the freedom (and the responsibility) to make choices, self-advocate, and solve problems on their own is similar to the way he grew up in South Dakota — and he suspects he’s all the better for it.
Check out Ben and Elisa’s group blog.