What a joy it is to teach! This is my fifth year as Science and Garden teacher, and coming into this year I really notice what an impact the years have had on my teaching. Every year I learn something new, and every summer I have had an opportunity to grow professionally, thanks especially to the Faculty Venture Grant. This summer’s PEEK project in Ecuador is a culmination of the learning I do each summer. From Permaculture Design to Sustainable Curriculum Design to Herpetological Research, I learned to grow the program, make it relevant, and made small tweaks that allow me the time I need to breathe and stay in the moment. While teaching teachers this summer I had new insights about patience and attention and practice, and I am thrilled to see those pieces coming together in the Acorn Room (the science room) this year. It is only the first week, I know, but small changes can make a big difference and I most definitely see the potential in these beginning moments.
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time
The pictures below will tell the story of our first days best, but to give context to some images I’d like to explain what it is we have been doing for each of our Garden and Science hours this week. First, we are using the room differently: the tables are spread out toward the back end of the room, with small tables at the windows for learners who need space or a view to concentrate. The space in front of the SmartBoard is open and colorful carpet squares define seat space for meeting in a circle at the beginning of every class. Meeting in a circle has been one of my favorite pieces of this week, the intimacy of sitting on the floor close to one another creates the opportunity for spending a purposeful hour of class.
The camera is an instrument that teaches
people how to see without a camera.
Our first project is to get our Science Notebooks ready. With students I shared photos from the summer in Ecuador, where kids are empowered to capture images of their backyards to document biodiversity and become more connected to the world they inhabit. Then we recognized that we are in the best position to document the biodiversity of our own Trinity backyard, to open our eyes anew to the life that surrounds us. With iPads we have been capturing the beauty of the Nature Path and creating frames on our own notebooks to showcase the best of what we have seen. Throughout the year those photos can change as the Nature Path changes. I wonder what will happen to the way we know this place we call school?
In the end we will conserve only what we love;
we will love only what we understand;
and we will understand only what we have been taught
And what will we do for the places we have laughed in? For the plants we have crawled under to find something new? For the place where we felt the sun’s rays as the trees do, giving us energy and light?