Posted by: jwhiff | September 17, 2011

Seeing the Forest for the Trees

During the past few months, I read my way through Last Child in the Woods (Richard Louv, 2005), Emergent Curriculum in the Primary Classroom (Carol Anne Wien, 2008), Reading With Meaning (Debbie Miller, 2003), and most recently, A Place for Wonder ( Heard and McDonough, 2009) in preparation for teaching my K-1 kids.  I was ready to jump into the year with my big picture blazing before me like a banner, in full technicolor.

It is funny how quickly visions shrink down to minute, but pressing details when the kids and parents are in front of you . I was shaking in my boots earlier this week, as I was about to experience all of my young students together in one room, at the same time and for a full day.  There were so many small planning things to consider and I had never experienced such a thing (at this level) before.  Bathroom routines, tape marks on the carpet, cups of sharpened pencils, tubs of books, word walls, paint smocks, labels for containers, safety line-ups, earthquake drills, listening routines….the list goes on and on!  It is difficult to keep the big picture blazing when there are so many small things that need to be done just right, or else!!!

This weekend, I am revisiting my big picture because I don’t want to lose it.  Do I want to nurture my young students’ sense of wonder?  Yes.  Do I want them to ask questions and feel compelled observe, explore, read, reflect, and write with passion?  Yes.  Do I want them to love school?  Yes.

So far, I feel like I have merely made it through the school days calmly and patiently.  I have had to anticipate, watch, respond, try and try again.  And this is only to convince children to gather and listen!  I believe this is
completely necessary, but I don’t want to get caught up in thinking that I am successful just because I have control.  I want the days that each child spends with me to have some meaning beyond learning how to function in a school environment.

Next week, I have to get them outside for more than just playground time.  I have an empty aquarium that I would like to fill with dirt, leaves and perhaps a few creepy-crawlies that we can observe too.  I’ll feel much better if I can get this started!  The sooner that I can see little bodies crouched and looking in the grass, the sooner I’ll feel like I am on the right track!


(By the way, this is a photo of my son stalking insects outside of an important monastery in Serbia.  Insects kept Quentin and Landon completely engaged in our travels wherever we went)

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