Celebrate with Ruth Ayres Writes …. because we need to celebrate moments in our lives every chance we get.
For her Poetry Friday post, Ruth – our poetry friend from Haiti, wrote beautifully about the connection between the crafts of teaching and gardening:
I find teaching like gardening because you can do everything “right,” all the planting and watering and fertilizing, and still there is a large part of the process that’s just a complete mystery. It takes place out of sight, and it’s out of your control. In addition, of course, there are all the other factors – the “weather” of your students’ lives, like their home situation, their relationships with other kids in the class, their hormones, whether or not they had breakfast this morning.
Ruth’s musings led her to compose a lovely poem, and led me down the rabbit hole of thinking about how wise and accurate her comparison had been. Yes, I’ve been thinking ever since, our classrooms are like garden plots, ones we tend to with care from September through June and then ponder over ever after: what went well, what did not, what are the lessons learned, and what do I feel I am ready to experiment with in the year to come.
As I sit before a tabletop covered with my students’ reading and writing lives which need to be commented upon and assessed, I have flashes of memories from our first marking period: the anticipation of setting up our classroom, the excitement of the first day, and the fits and starts with which my kids progressed from nervous sixth graders to ones who have settled in.
Following Ruth’s gardening metaphor, the first quarter of the year feels very much like the very beginning of Spring, when the detritus of winter must be cleared away, the weeds of the Fall cleaned off, and the soil tilled and enriched so that growth might (fingers crossed) occur. Going into the second marking period feels like the end of Spring: each plant has its own spot in which to grow and thrive, and has begun to grow. The garden now looks a bit uneven still, for each plant grows at its own rate, but it is taking shape, and that gives the gardener hope.
Reaching for each reading journal or piece of writing by my students has begun to feel familiar – when I read my students’ work I can hear their voices, I can remember the goals we have set, and I can appreciate the ways in which they have grown. The gardener has come to know her garden.
As we look ahead and plan for the second marking period, I celebrate the way in which each of my students has claimed their very own place in the learning arc of the year. They’ve settled in, they are beginning to grow…and I celebrate that.