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What is Our REAL Work as Handwork Teachers?

I am reflecting on our July 2022 handwork teacher conference - Handwork & the 12 Senses. These past 4 days have been filled with so much rich content to consider and reflect on. This week we have had the honor of hearing from so many amazing guest speakers. Chiaki Uchiyama brought us a beautiful perspective on the 12 senses as windows to the soul. Betty Staley brought the practical applications of the 12 senses in handwork. Dr. Gary Etting opened our eyes to the importance of visual processing skills and how often they are overlooked. Kristin Palen OT shared with us the vital importance of sensory processing skills. She showed us how to recognize challenges through handwork and gave us a treasure trove of activities we can do with our students every day. And Kevin Avison enlightened our understanding of the 12 senses as they enliven and ensoul the developing human being.


We have learned to juggle with Theadora Mason, do leather work with Shai Porath, and make fidget marble mazes, jump ropes, and wet felted vessels. Yoriko Yamamoto shared a simple but mind bending fabric card case project. And Dahlia Haberman shined a light on her way of bringing hand sewing through the grades. In this Dahlia truly embodies the ideal that we are always either building a foundation or building on a foundation. It really is all connected.


Why did we bring this amazing group of teachers together this week? What is it all about? As we planned this conference over the past many months, we held a question in our hearts as the guiding star.


What is our REAL work as handwork teachers? What is the real work of any teacher? Is it to ensure that every child is capable of knitting a square? Or sewing a button? No, it is so much more than that.


We believe our REAL work as teachers is to help every child develop to their full and unique potential.


That may seem like a daunting task. How do we do that?


First, we must come to know each child who stands before us. We must see them for who they really are, see their full and unique potential. For every child truly is unique and has their own true destiny. We must observe carefully so we may see the obstacles that stand in their way, the unique areas where they need to grow and where they hunger for learning.