Thursday, March 19, 2015
This very nice plant was an end-of-the-year gift from a 4th grade class one year. I was looking at it and thinking about the names on the pot -- I think this was my first class when I moved from kindergarten to 4th grade. If I have calculated correctly, those kids are now about 20 years old. Wow!
It was my choice to move to 4th grade. I loved kindergartners, but I was ready for a change. I teach in a small independent school and that year the only position open was 4th grade, so I took it. I had a great partner teacher. She had developed a lot of the curriculum we used, including the entire social studies from the Pilgrims (a simulation that included "sailing" on a crowded "Mayflower" and an Colonial America/American Revolution unit that took 5 months). She was an incredible mentor for me that year.
However, it was a really difficult year! I had a whole new curriculum to learn. I had to learn what 4th graders were like and what to expect from them. I had to go on 3 days of outdoor education. And I had some of the most difficult kids of my career that year, plus several serious medical conditions.
I did the best I could with the difficult kids. I got a handle on the curriculum, and every year after I learned a little more. I found out that I loved outdoor ed! And at the end of the year, the parents and kids gave me this plant, which has thrived in my kitchen ever since. This sounds like a metaphor, but I can't decide what for.
Perhaps it's a metaphor for different kinds of growth. As the plant has grown, I have too, as a 4th grade teacher. I have learned an awful lot about American history up through the American Revolution. I have tried different ways to teach reading and writing. My class is blogging, for the second year in a row. I'm blogging!
As for that class, I know they have grown, too. Several have kept in touch with me, and I'm so impressed with them as people and learners. One important gift they gave me is perspective. The "bossy" child grows into a leader. The eager to please boy grows into a thoughtful commentator. And now I know that the challenging students I continue to have every year will grow into confident individuals.
And my plant continues to thrive, too.