Sunday, March 29, 2009
While in philosophy I believe that we can teach a child everything s/he needs to know to pass those all important measures by focusing on the big picture, I am also very aware that a child doesn't have the capacity to know that he knows something if the words which surround it are not familiar.
For example, I watched the children, intent as they were, learning how to take a plant from its pot and place it at the proper depth and distance from another plant. They were all equally focused, equally eager, equally engaged and they were learning something they would never forget because it involved them wholly. In education we often refer to the many different learning styles - auditory, visual, kinesthetic, and more - with which a child experiences the world and knowing! The garden involved them all.
But suppose they encounter a question on the test using words they do not know to describe this particular activity. They will have no way to demonstrate mastery! This is the difficulty teachers face as they divide up their year into small bits of time in which they will teach small bits of information, or small skills. If I am not mistaken there are more standards than there is time to teach them in 3rd grade (and probably 4th as well). And now we have heard that next year 2nd graders are to memorize their multiplication tables! (Audible sigh goes here)
For these reasons I am not surprised to find that not all the teachers are rushing to be involved during school hours with the planting of a garden. It is why we planted the garden during spring break -- which meant that only a few kids got to have this wonderful experience!
So I pick up and place this shard of earth-colored glass in my stained glass window which grows every so slowly to make something positive of the broken glass. You see, despite the odds Westmeade now has a garden..... To see more pictures of the garden go to http://www.westmeadees.mnps.org/Page53162.aspx
Monday, March 16, 2009
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Thursday when I was helping fourth graders use the figurative language of metaphor, it fell from my head. This metaphor describes how I felt about this year's work in my elementary school library. A school library serves many functions. Independent reading, reinforcing literary concepts, (like figurative language), using technology, helping students learn to question, to think, to evaluate sources of information for validity...encouraging and coaching! Really that is it! That is all! ENCOURAGE AND COACH.
To know this and to not fulfill the mission is walking on broken glass. I walk on the glass not because I am ill-prepared, not eager, not willing. My feet bleed because I have failed to impress those who control funds with the value of a school library done well.
- A good library program requires planning time to carefully craft, in collaboration with teachers, the shape of student experience with data and analysis, their individual interaction with literature, their independent use of technology to achieve their goals.
- A good library program requires support staff to do the clerical work (shelving - repair-processing-cleaning checking in and out) as the librarian works with students or does planning and coaching.
So far this is pretty drenched in despair, right? That is where the metaphor takes over my thinking. What can I do with broken glass? For the next few days I will reflect on individual pieces of broken glass and maybe I will find my way through the metaphor to hope.