One Sunflower

convergence zone

on November 15, 2009


I headed home on Friday in the midst of a storm; the sky was purple-black, there was thunder and lightning, and mothball sized hail falling with pings on my car.  I took it slow because my car is like a soda-pop can on wheels.  Slow driving means more think-time.  I reflected on the past two weeks – some of the worst I’ve had teaching.  But the changes I had made over the past week had created a better environment in my classroom and I was feeling good on that slow, slushy drive.

I don’t think I am dissimilar from other teachers who are so vested in their work that a crummy day becomes a total assault on my psyche.  Robyn Jackson, in her book, Never Work Harder Than Your Students, suggests that teachers have metaphors they use about teaching and that we should pay attention to these metaphors because they are indicators of the role we see for ourselves.  I know I’ve used gardening metaphors when I’ve written about my role as a teacher but I’m not sure I really see the children as little plants that I nurture with tender care.  I know that my students need more than just a great environment and loving care to thrive. 

I feel my classroom is a place where there are forces of nature at work.  Some of those forces are the students themselves – whether they be stormy little hurricanes or sweet summer breezes, they move about the classroom with impact.  The force that I am in the classroom is sometimes as gradual as water over rocks, changes I will never be able to account for.   At other times the students and staff come together in a climate of wind, water, and waves – creating new frontiers.

It can be exciting to be a storm chaser.  But sometimes it is overwhelming and I’d like to be able to turn it all over to the weather channel!  

It is a new frontier to have preschoolers in an elementary school.  Their needs are somewhat like our most involved special ed students in that preschoolers don’t have all the behaviors we expect of school age children.  We can model and explain the expectations but they aren’t always developmentally appropriate for 3-5 year olds and a preschooler may need special supports.  The teacher in the preschool classroom is that number one support. 

So I guess that explains why I often feel it is all up to me but I am getting better at looking to all the resources available to me.   There are other early childhood educators, paraprofessionals, my principal, the parents of my students, traditional resources in books and on the internet.  Thank goodness I’ve developed the tenacity to try to get to the bottom of issues when they crop up. That is part of my own personal nature.

(Painting by Shanti Marie — check out her art!)


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