Write down your homework assignments.
In my son Colin’s third grade classroom, all the homework assignments were written on the chalkboard, right next to the door. In my son Jared’s fifth grade classroom, the week’s worth of homework was posted on a board; each day’s work could be found under its day’s heading – Monday, Tuesday, etc. School life is a lot easier when expectations are clearly stated, and learners given the time and skills to meet them. It’s a good practice, this writing down assignments.
This past week, I began my fifth year as my public library’s learning gardener. With Marcia and Katarina, my co-leaders, an eight week plan was created, materials selected, and our overall expectations for the program listed. Each day, I do my best to encourage the pre-school participants (and their parents, grandparents, siblings, and other guardians) to experience the garden, learn one new skill or idea, and try a garden-based snack. Each week, my co-leaders and I sit down to review the week and evaluate what did and did not work. Ideas for the next year are jotted down – our best attempt to learn from our successes and failures. At the end of the summer, we’ll look back over the entire program – not just for the pleasure it gives, but to grow next year’s program from its fertile soil.
If I were to write my assignments on a board – what I need to do to grow as I foster the growth of my young learners, I guess the list would look something like this…
- Keep what brought joy to the children and adults who spent time in the garden.
- Leave the outside world in better shape every year – garden beds, trees, bushes, patios and pathways.
- Point out the startlingly beautiful everyday miracles – butterflies, birds, spiderwebs, fireflies, flowers, and rocks.
- Be a good neighbor to the bunnies, squirrels, hawk, and groundhog that call the garden area home.
- Remember that the assignments are a means to a holy life, not ends unto themselves.
- Be a good partner, and let others lead when they are ready.
- Love the people life gives you.