Dr. Seuss on Personal Kanban in the classroom

If you are a long time follower of this blog you know that I was a preschool teacher for 11+ years.  Last year I left teaching after relocating to a new area to follow other pursuits.  Over the course of 2 years I had implemented several personal kanban boards in my preschool classes that proved to be very successful.

Yesterday I returned to the preschool where I had taught for over 11 years for a visit and to spend time with my students from last year.  When I entered through those doors again I was immediately inspired.  It was as if I had never left.  As I sat looking around the classroom I began to think about my favorite children’s author – Dr. Seuss and how much I loved when February rolled around and we would spend a few weeks concentrating on his books exclusively, doing crafts pertaining to those books and how much he taught my students through his works.  Then I began to think about the personal kanbans I used to help the students learn and master benchmark goals and how Dr. Seuss paralleled that.  Thus this post was born.  So below are some of Dr. Seuss’ famous quotes and how they work so well with Personal Kanban in the classroom and beyond.

“Today you are You, that is truer than true.  There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”

Individual learning. Personal Kanban lends itself perfectly to this.  Each student works at their own pace.  It does not matter where other students are each one is doing their own task in their own time.  They bring their own individuality to their work.  This is what makes You, Youer than You!

THINK! You can think any THINK that you wish….”

Thinking! Yes!  This is what all teachers want, their students to think! Of course.  The beauty of using Personal Kanban is that when the student sees the task, they all may view it in a different way, they may even get to their goal – the completed task – through different means than others.  2+2 does = 4 but there are different ways of getting that value.  It’s important to learn the task at hand but it’s also important to learn that there are different avenues of getting there.

Individual learning

“If you never did, you should.  These things are fun and fun is good.”

F-U-N!  We all want fun.  We all want to enjoy what we are doing.  As a teacher I always wanted to make learning fun.  I wanted to engage my preschoolers fully.  By designing different personal kanbans for the classroom we had many ways to learn and to have fun!

stoplight kidzban

kite kidzban

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”

This ties in beautifully with the thinking quote up above.  There in many cases may only be one answer to the task at hand but there are many roads you can choose to get there.  Our classroom ABC’s Personal Kanban showed each student’s journey to completion differently.  Each student interacted with their task cards so differently but each completed the goal.

Individual cards.

“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”

When the students looked at the whole alphabet from A-Z some said, “Oh I’ll never learn all those letters!”  However, when we broke up the overwhelming task for them,  from 26 letters at once to 2 or 3 at a time it became simpler.  Much simpler.  In most cases our students took the lead.  What was once overwhelming and complicated to them ended up being in a word – simple.

Personal Kanban ABC's

“It’s better to know how to learn than to know.”

When we give preschoolers the proper tools at a young age to encourage learning, collaboration and the experience of learning, that is something they carry with them all along on their educational journey.  All students want to do good work.  Laying the foundation at a young age helps facilitate doing their best work.

“The more that you read, the more things you will know.  The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

Visualization is key.  My preschoolers (age 3) were not yet reading but that did not slow them down one bit.  They listened, they engaged with board, they watched other students interact with the board and they learned from them.  They were soon learning and building their own goals by collaborating with other students.

Teaching about Thanksgiving using a Kidzban

Teaching about Thanksgiving using a Kidzban

“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!

I had a parent say to me that their child was fearful of writing letters.  As the year went on the child was observing the other students getting excited over writing the letters, comparing their work with each other on the board, collaborating on their papers, soon the child was no longer fearful but began to go above and beyond what was expected.  All the student did was to try.

“Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.”

Retrospect.  I started with ideas.  I put them on a board.  I designed the personal kanbans for the classroom with the intent of them all being successful.  However, not everything works on the first try.  While our personal kanbans were all successful, we certainly made changes on the fly as the year went on.  We had weekly meetings to talk about what was working on the board and what wasn’t, and then we made adjustments.  Having a retrospective talk on a weekly basis was key.  We were able to adapt with our students, continue on a path to fit their educational needs.

“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”

Smile.  When I look at each student and what they learned from our classroom Personal Kanbans I can’t help but smile.  The look on each student’s face when they received a sticker or moved a task card over, that smile. Priceless.  Smile because it happened.

Personal Kanban in the classroom

As I read through these quotes it occurred to me that I could relate these quotes to my own personal kanbans that I have used over the past few years. To me Personal Kanban is such a great learning tool because it’s relatable across all lines, something that knows no boundaries.  It is teaching us about ourselves while helping us to learn or do a specific task(s).  I have yet to come across a situation where I have not been able to apply a personal Kanban to help me complete my tasks or achieve my goals.

Interested in learning more?

Follow me on Twitter: topsurf

Want to know more about Personal Kanban?  Visit the Personal Kanban Website.

Want to read an awesome book on Personal Kanban?  Purchase: Personal Kanban Mapping Work / Navigating Life  by Jim Benson and Tonianne DeMaria Barry
You can view my productivity photos on flickr:
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