People often question the sanity of any teacher wanting to work in a middle school environment when there are so many other options available in the field of education. The kids are going through so many changes all at once that your not always sure what to expect from one day to the next. And boy can they be forgetful. But when you get the classroom setup right and provide enough creative challenge for any type of student you can have the time of your life. If you are able to keep on top of all the different emotions through the school day you are often rewarded with a smoother running class environment.
It’s true that beginning adolescents benefit more from direct experiences than from abstract ideas and principles. The students demonstrate that to us each and every day. I can’t tell you how proud I am of our students as they carry out the daily tasks required to run a year round garden project. Someone is always ready to step up to the plate when things need to get done. Taking out the lunch waste, cutting swiss chard during lunch, giving a visiting class a soil lesson, preparing fresh produce for the soup kitchen, mixing the compost pile, tending the worms, collecting daily hoop weather data, cleaning the garden and greenhouse, presenting to the community and on and on.
Yesterday, Mr. Thurston and I went to the Tremont School to kick off a new garden project for their students. It was an honor for us to share our project with their school community and to announce a $25,000 grant their school received from a local family. The process started last year when some of the Tremont School faculty came to our school to learn about the gardening project we had for our students. After spending some time with our students they were hooked and are now beginning an outdoor learning lab at their own school.
A few days prior to our presentation, though, we had to let the school know that we couldn’t afford to bus the students to present the garden project and they would be stuck with just the two teachers to present. I did mention that I would ask the students to put together a short video highlighting their learning and responsibilities throughout the year. They took me up on the challenge and within two days had worked out a wonderful 14 minute video piece explaining their role in the Garden Project while touring the grounds. It was greatly received by the Trenton students, giving them something to strive for in their own garden program. Congratulations THMS Garden Students for another job well done.