Over the last few weeks, I’ve spent a lot of time watching Vicky and Fran from Purple Patch working alongside children in schools in West Yorkshire. Each week there has been what can only be described as ‘magic moments’ in the classroom. When I say: “can only be described as”, what I really mean is, they are quite difficult to describe!! But we’ve felt them, and we’ve seen them in the faces of the children and the people who know them well, and Vicky, Fran and I all knew them when we saw them.
So this week, I just want to share a few of these magic moments:
Teacher: [At the end of the first session] That was amazing, you have no idea, Jim is never like that! He was listening! He took part!
Karen spent the beginning of the session with her arms firmly folded, she refused to touch the Shakespearian ruff, she shook her head as the quill was passed round, refusing to take it into her hand. And then Fran placed the leaves gently on her lap, Karen’s arms remained folded, then quickly, while she thought no one was watching, she picked them up, rubbing them between her fingers, and then quickly dropped them again. Fran came around the circle again, this time with a bowl of water, Karen shook her head, kept her arms folded and sent Fran away, but as soon as Fran turned away, Karen called her back and put her hand in the water, gently splashing.
Tim is feeling grumpy: he spends most of the beginning of the session letting everyone know that. A teaching assistant suggests he goes on a walk, he agrees and comes back, seemingly a little less grumpy. Vicky has just got out the shadow puppets; Tim is captivated. He reaches out, murmuring, and is handed a puppet. He makes the puppet dance in front of the light, his face is lit up too by the light and with excitement. His teacher grabs the camera, leaps forward and takes a close up of Tim’s face [to show Tim’s mother]. As we leave she says: “ if you knew him … [you’d know just how unusual that is].
Jason used his whole body to let us know that he was enjoying the session. He made excited sounds as some of the children gathered round him and gently sprinkled cellophane pieces over him. He watched them as they fell, smiling and making more excited noises.
Karen refuses to touch the slime that is being passed round the circle, her teacher offers Karen her hand “put your hand in mine and we’ll do it together” and together they hold the slime.
Neil uses a wheelchair and cannot reach the table to draw a line along the beam of light shining from the torch as the other children have been doing in the session. Vicky takes the torch, paper, and chalk to the table on Neil’s wheelchair and suddenly, without a word being said, there is a host of helping hands (other children, Vicky and a teacher) to help Neil. There is a moment of concentration and, with gentle support, Neil draws the line.
So it seems that magic moments have a few things in common: children trying something new, children being caught up in the moment, and children and adults working together as one. Magic moments indeed!