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Aug 26, 2022

The Meme was of a photo of a Bull Dog poking his head into the cat door.  “Who Let The Dogs Out, Woof, Woof Woof…,” I sang to set a playful mood. It was now time for the students to access their creativity and imagine what this Bull Dog might be saying and type it in the chat. Little phrases, popped up as the students click-clacked on their keyboards- “I’m Stuck, Kibble, and Open Up” were some of the responses. “Okay, now we are going to act them out in our Bull Dog voices,” I suggested.

One student remarked, “I’ve never done this before.” while the others seems to echo his sentiment with incredulous expressions. “It’s true, this is new, so please take your time.” But one by one, each student stepped outside their comfort zone to act out their best Bull Dog impression. They were hilarious- one even had a Brooklyn accent. Samatha was the last to go and I could tell this was on her edge. She was silent but I noticed her wheels were turning. “I can see you thinking, Samatha.” “How do you know, I am thinking?” she asked in earnest. “I can see your eyes looking up and off to the side like this” - I mirrored her pondering back to her.” She giggled and then returned to processing. Finally, she said, “Okay- I am going to do some barks first, so I can get the right volume.”

After a brief pause, she uttered three deep Woofs and then used them as a bridge to her character voice, “KIIIBBBBLLLLEEE?!?!?” Not only did she nail the voice but somehow she completely captured this Bull Dog’s essence-  strong and sweet, sincere and comedic. It was brilliant - we knew it and most importantly she knew it.  Samantha chuckled along with her peers who praised her. This is the beauty of play. It involves taking a risk, being vulnerable, and getting comfortable with uncertainty.  To play is to color outside the lines without the safety net of pre-approval. It is daring to respond to a question that doesn’t have a ready answer. So why am I making a big deal out of Samatha’s ability to find the Bull Dog’s Voice? Because I suspect that it will be in a similar playspace, with equal parts bravery and tenacity, that she will find her own.