Monday, October 7, 2013

Slice of Life - Reflecting on Farm School

Farm School today

This weekend brought some unexpected chance for reflection. I’ve been thinking a lot about the relationships I have with students, the classroom environment we live and breathe in. Mine is not unique, but also not always typical. I began to push myself to reflect on those things that are non-negotiable, or my friend Donalyn calls them her “core beliefs.” There are ones I hold up for academics, but the way I treat my students, the way my classroom runs and “feels” – those come from some core beliefs too. This weekend, as strange as it sounds, I remembered where I came from.

I mentioned in a post from Sunday that I had a chance to attend a wedding on
My mom on the left, Kris holding me on the right.
Saturday. When I was there, I ran into my preschool teacher, Kris. She was, as always, unfailingly kind, generous, and attentive. It has been thirty-five years since I was her student, yet she remembers so much. We talked about the recent experience I gave my class last year on her property. (Previous post HERE) She said how much she’d love to hear what my students were writing and I gave her a standing invitation to come to my classroom. Talking to Kris brought so much of my preschool experience back.

In my memory, my time at Kris’s preschool was magical. Called Farm School, it took place on a real farm on the edge of our town. I remember animals in the yard, sitting in a circle for lessons, washing our dishes, playing, friends, and more. I also remember feeling loved, cared for, and the notion that my teachers believed in me. I clearly remember feeling at home sitting on a beautiful porch with windows that looked out over fields as far as you could see and creating. I was encouraged, taught, and cherished. We all were.

As a teacher when I look back at that time, I realize
My grandma (middle) visiting the school.
that what I can transfer to my classroom, I have. I try hard to make my students know that I love them, that I believe in them. I think without that, you won’t get anywhere and your students certainly won’t. I’ve tried to make our classroom feel like home – where it is our classroom, not mine. I try and turn over as much of the daily responsibilities of running our room to my students as possible. All of these things stem back to this school experience that shaped so much of who I am.

My granddad (left) visiting.
Chris and I have joked many times about what would happen if we ever won the lottery. (We’d have to actually play it first.) He laughs and says that he knows I’d never stop teaching and he’s right, I wouldn’t. But having a school like my Farm School would be a dream. I love that place. I wish my own children could have gone there. For a period of my life, it was my second home. I hope one day my students can say the same for their time in fifth grade.  Everyone deserves some memories like the ones that I treasure. Thank you Kris, and her sister Melinda, for my years on the farm.

Slice of Life is sponsored every Tuesday by Two Writing Teachers