One Sunflower

sunflowers and pumpkins

on October 2, 2009

My school year begins in August when the sunflowers stand tall and bright on the rural roadsides I drive each day to work.  I love them – the reason for my blog’s name, the title of a favorite Mary Oliver poem, symbolic to me of many things. I feel like a sunflower in August. 

Come September, their broad brown faces droop, their yellow manes of petals wither and even their leafy shoulders sag towards the ground.  The mornings become foggy and the fields seem resigned to the coming months of rain and mud and muck. 

These October days have a golden hue, they start brisk but become warm late in the afternoon.   I drive to school at dawn, a big red sun rising over the mountain, and arrive home to find the moon or Venus making an evening appearance.  Pumpkins are appearing at the grocery stores, big and round, waiting for their personalities to be revealed on Halloween.  That’s the way I feel about my students at school.  There they are in my classroom, their  rounded faces turned toward me and I stand before them, trying to figure out who they are. 

I don’t really like all the tools in my drawer that I’m supposed to use to figure these little pumpkins out.  I have parent and teacher questionnaires, checklists and activities to evaluate their developmental, social emotional and cognitive abilities.  They are time consuming, not always terribly revealing, and not very fun at all.  But there is a 45 day timeline from the minute those pumpkins come in my door until the week before Halloween, for me to get them done, name what these children can and can’t do and make decisions about what to do about it. 

I’m smack dab in the middle of the field right now somewhere between the sunflowers and the pumpkins.


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