Piper is a character is Pixar’s latest short film featured before the showing of Finding Dory. This 6-minute silent-film will leave a lasting impression as Piper is navigating the learning process with his Mom right by his side.
The film begins with Piper clinging to his mom, as she encourages him to go out to find his own food. Reluctant, Piper just stands there, opening and closing his mouth, while watching his mom find food. Piper, finally becomes brave enough and runs toward his mom, which is also straight for the ocean. Waves are coming and going, when Piper models his mom’s actions and looks for bubbles in the sand. Not too long after some confidence is gained, a big wave rushes to shore and sweeps Piper right off of his feet. Piper becomes afraid of the water once more.
Piper notices several hermit crabs running to shore, and when the water covers them, they bury themselves in the sand… A curious Piper tries this strategy out and is successful. Piper is faced with another wave that causes him to tumble and flip, but this time, he opened his eyes and what he saw was a magical sight. Food everywhere. After this experience, there was no stopping Piper from being independent and finding his own food.
We have to be that push for our students. We cannot do everything for them. We must instill independence through expectations. Piper only ventured out to his mom because he realized she wasn’t going to come back to his comfort zone and feed him.
Modeling is imperative. Our students are watching every move we make, from our interactions with our colleagues, to our reactions. Piper’s mom modeled exactly what she wanted Piper to do to be successful at collecting is own food.
Set backs are the path to growth. Piper’s mom never left his side when the wave toppled him. She continued to push him out of his comfort zone and lure him out to shore with the rest of the birds. She didn’t give up on him.
As we know, all students learn in different ways. Just like Piper, our students are going to learn the way that they learn best… only if we give them multiple choices. Piper’s mom was okay with him not following exactly in her footsteps.
Our students need to have confidence in themselves and the choices that they make. This confidence will only persevere if we are continually listening to their voices. Piper found something that worked for him (burring himself in the sand for stability) so, he became confident.
Students opening their eyes to the real-life possibilities. They long for the treasure (outcome). They set goals and develop action plans. Piper knew exactly what was available to him because he opened his eyes.
Once students are fully engaged, there is no stopping them (unless it is lunch or recess)! They will want (not have to) to continue to work and put their whole being into the task at hand. Piper wouldn’t stop collecting all the clams that he saw.
Our students need to feel accomplishment. They not only need to feel it from us, but from the school, their parents, and their communities. At the end of the day, Piper was ecstatic at all he had accomplished, and there to celebrate with him, was his mom.
I know this post is common sense, but what a great example of learning for our students and reminder for us. So often, we get sucked in by the standards, or the have-to’s, that we skip over the real meaning of why the students are there and why we are there.