Sunday, December 27, 2015

"I'll hold my own hand."

The photographer was trying to find the shot. The one that separates amateurs and professionals. The difference between a snapshot and photo is small; an elusive detail that comes from years of experience and thousands of throw away shots. In the days of 35mm film, the old rule of thumb was that if you got one "keeper", a shot worth printing, out of a 36 exposure roll you were coming out ahead. Digital photography allows today's photographer the freedom to just keep shooting. Capture the moment then sort 'em out later, but taking a good photo still requires a good setup, subject, and a trained eye.

Today's subjects were growing a little weary of the photog's seemingly constant requests to turn, shift, look to the left/right/up/down, and tricks to conjure up a memorable smile. Dressed in their "Sunday best", the two girls-five and seven, would have much rather been somewhere, anywhere, playing and doing 5-year/7-yr old stuff.

Instead, as the photo session was winding down, the older girl was being asked to do something that seemed foreign to her. "Only" seven, she already possessed an uncommon sense of independence.

"Hold your sister hand"

A glance to her younger sister and quick moment of reflection.

"I'll hold my own hand."

A remarkable statement. The response was without defiance or stubbornness, but stated with confidence and assuredness. She realized, and clearly had been taught, that it was not only okay, but expected that she state her preferences. Isn't this how we want our kids to think? Don't we want them to become self sufficient and recognize that they can be independent thinkers?

Hopefully this first grader will land in a classroom where her differences are respected; a classroom not based in compliance or where the classroom culture supports the teacher's comfort zone and work flow. A classroom where she doesn't have to ask permission to sharpen her pencil.

Hopefully her assignments will give her choices on how she demonstrates her learning. A classroom environment where she doesn't have to worry about a behavior report for "non-compliance" or a "zero" if she doesn't complete the assignment the way in which her teacher prescribes.

Let this child keep shooting, she's a keeper.

Follow me on Twitter @YourKidsTeacher

Thanks to Mrs. Freeman who told me the story behind this picture in her office as she graciously gave me time on her last day, retiring,  after being an educator for 35+ years.


  1. Thank you Eric. This speaks to the value of equipping our children and our students to share their voices-by letting their yes mean yes and their no mean no. The lesson will come for those uncomfortable with honesty and candour from children. If anything, we're in the business of teaching students to hold their own hands, solve their own problems, and develop independence.

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