What is your name? How old are you?
And how will you make your mark on the world?
I'm writing this post on the eve of our week of virtual connections with students of all ages from all over the world. This is not my first time celebrating International Dot Day (officially celebrated on September 15th), but it will be the first for my students. And for many it will be the first time they have ever used Skype in school. We have not had time to make dots or bookmarks or trading cards or any of the other ways I've worked with students to express gratitude and connectedness in the past, having just finished our first week of school.
And that's all okay. Because this year is different.
We are celebrating Dot Day, in effect, while my students are still getting to know me. Me, the new guy at this school. Me, the one who's been changing things around in the library, redesigning the space, and introducing some programs and practices this library hasn't seen before. Me, who keeps a cardigan on the file cabinet and a pair of shoes under the desk to change into each morning. Me, the one who's reassigned names of students to sir, miss, sweetie, and honey until I can spend more time studying the class list. Me, the otherwise stranger. These next weeks and months will be about building relationships and building trust.
As I think about what Dot Day can be like for these kids and all kids throughout the world who are joining in celebration this week, I'm reminded of an installation by artist Yayoi Kusama in the Look Now, See Forever exhibition entitled The Obliteration Room. For The Obliteration Room Kusama set up a living room painted entirely white, a blank canvas if you will. Kusama then gave visitors circular stickers of all different colors to place where ever they liked throughout the room.
Of the installation, Kusama said,
"My desire was to predict and measure the infinity of the unbounded universe,
from my own position in it, with dots.”
We are all part of an infinitely vast, chaotic, and beautiful universe, and yet a similar but different universe exists within each of us. How we connect to one another expands that universe in us. How we listen to one another expands that universe. How we collaborate and share and create and wonder with one another expands that universe.
How we love and look out for one another expands that universe.
I'm gonna keep an eye on my universe this week. I'm also going to invite some of my students into this online space to share some thoughts that can stand as a marker in this place and time.
DAY ONE: What mark do you want to make on the world?
Chloe (age 7) - "I can make my mark by doing hair because I love designing hair and I play at home with my mom designing her hair"
Tavon (age 8) - "I've kind of already made my mark because my little brother looks up to me and he's always trying to do and like the same things I do, so that's something I like."
Natasja (age 9) - "When I get older I want to start this company where people who are having issues with their family can get help."
*Thank you for connecting your classes with us, Ms. Alaniz (@utalaniz), Ms. McCoy (@illinimccoy), and Ms. MacDonald (@dsmacdonald, @orchardVT)!
DAY TWO: What was something you heard in class today and how did it make you feel?
Trust (age 7) - "I heard "thank you" and it made me feel happy."
Logan (age 7) - "I heard people say "hello" and it made me feel happy."
Anaya (age 7) - "I heard little kids having questions and that made me feel so happy."
Jamica (age 9) - "We read together and got to know new people and it made me feel happy to see other people and what they would do."
Lois (age 6) - "I heard them say "don't get stressed out" and it made me know that it's good to work because it makes your brain stronger."
*Thank you for connecting your classes with us, Ms. Shekleton (@DShekleton), Ms. McCoy (@illinimccoy), and Ms. Graves (@gravescolleen)!
DAY THREE: Who is someone that has made a mark on your life?
Flor (age 10) - "My parents and my sister because they've been there for me, my sister because she's changed my life."
Pierre (age 10) - "Mostly my sister because she's graduating from college and I want to do that, too."
Jake (age 7) - "My grandmother because I love her and she plays games with me."
David (age 7) - "Everybody is important in my life because they cook my food and give me a good night's sleep, they do a message for me, and the put my clothes on and give me breakfast."
Dorian (6) - "Johann is special because he plays with me."
Arianna (6) - "Vanessa made a mark on me because we play together and we go to a playground that's near our house."
*Thank you for connecting your classes with us, Ms. Dickens (@LibrarianArika), Ms. Shekleton (@DShekleton), and Ms. Graves (@gravescolleen)!
DAY FOUR: What was something you saw in class today and how did you react?
Scarlett (age 8) - "I liked how their class was very respectful."
Saniyah (age 8) - "I saw that we were connecting with such a nice class!"
Gregory (age 9) - "When I saw the students I was happy to see them because they were in a different state and I never knew that Skype was real."
Jeff (age 9) - "When I saw them on Skype it was the first time I'd ever done that in any classroom. It made me feel happy."
Michael (age 9) - "I learned something new about where the students live (Louisiana) and it made me feel happy."
Zahra (age 5) - "I saw them showing bookmarks and they were very pretty and very good!"
*Thank you for connecting your classes with us, Ms. Shekleton (@DShekleton), Ms. Guardiola (@dguardiola), Ms. Word (@catherine_word), Ms. Murch (@TeamMurch4), and Ms. Doepken (@juliereads)!
DAY FIVE: What future plans should we make with this experience behind us?
Noah (age 7) - "We can skype again and come up with ANOTHER future idea!"
Annie (age 7) - "We can paint a dot and send it to other classes."
Dustin (age 8) - "Maybe we could play video games with the computers and skype OR meet other class one day."
Kevin (age 8) - "We could design and make video games to share with other classes."
Alex (age 8) - "I think we should skype two classes at once!"
Evan (age 9) - "I want to maybe connect with a class and do a project together next time."
Mursal (age 9) - "I would like us to skype with the class a lot and read books and do projects together throughout the year."
*Thank you for connecting your classes with us, Ms. MacDonald (@dsmacdonald, @orchardVT), Ms. Crahen, Ms. Cole (@KatColeReads, @NESLibrary), Ms. McArtor (@ADMcArtor), and Ms. Doepken (@juliereads)!
And if you're one of the classes we skype with this week or in any of the weeks, months, or years to come, thank you for your connection and for the infinite universe in you. Your place in this world helps to give us purpose.