The Story of ... being invisible
being visibly invisible This is something I strive to be... The idea is that I want to be visible in the sense that the children know I am always there for them, that they can rely on me, that they feel safe to go off and explore, that we have mutual trust and respect and that I am a part of the democratic community of learning... but I want to be invisible too... that I do not interfere with the children's learning, that they have the power to solve their own problems and find their own solutions, that they have the time and space to explore, create and play without adult intervention. It is a constant balance of knowing when to step in and when to step back. I also like to position myself in one place during play, so that the children know where to find me... a place where I can see all the children - so that I can observe... not only to keep them safe, but also to learn from their play and interactions. I will at times move about when I realise I need to learn more... or I see a situation is becoming fragile and often my presence being a little closer is enough to support them to reflect on the situation rather than just follow their emotions. Some children need me to be more visible, others need less. And I have worked with some groups that have needed a lot of visibility on my behalf to scaffold the play climate. I have been unfortunate enough to work with some children from abusive homes - and these children have needed a lot of visibility to decode play and to build up trust with the whole group (and by unfortunate I mean I wished no child ever experienced abuse). I think the more I read about childhood, about play and about theories and research into development (brain, cognitive, social, physical) the more I am able to understand how to create that balance between visible and invisible to meet the needs of the children I work with... that balance is always changing, it is never a constant.
It is like having an invisibility cloak, and knowing when to put it on and when not.. it means needing to listen to the play, to the children,as a group and individually, to be able to understand whether I am going for full cloak coverage or partial... or on occasion to leave the cloak on the sidelines and to be there for the children.
Knowing when and when not to use the cloak of invisibility is not something that can be simply taught... it comes with experience... both practical and theoretical - and relies heavily on your power of phronesis.