Thursday, July 24, 2008

Teaching & Gardening

After reading Writing & Gardening, I started thinking about how teaching and gardening were alike since I love to do both. There must be some common characteristics that I enjoy that match my personality. Suzanne gives some profound statements that directly apply to my classroom and teaching style.

“Gardening is about promoting and nurturing growth.” That is exactly what I want to do in my classroom. I want to promote and nurture growth in my classroom. Just like plants who need sunlight and water and soil, my students need encouragement and basically good teaching. I cannot be so negative that I stunt or impede my students’ growth. Sometimes I can be so rigid and inflexible that I expect my students to conform to my ways and in the course of doing that, they may break instead of bend. I need to look at their needs and gear my teaching towards their learning styles instead of expecting them to learn according to my teaching style.

“I must spend some time weeding, lest the weeds obscure my blooms.” I can’t focus so much time on the students who don’t want to learn or who are misbehaving. I need to focus on the students who are learning and succeeding. Maybe the attention these students are getting will encourage the non-producing students to participate. Sometimes we give too much negative attention to the non-producing students to where it is more of a pay-off to not produce than to actually do something.

“No one ever compliments a garden because it is weed-free.” If I see a classroom where all of the students are sitting quietly at their desks and no one is saying or doing anything, I wonder if they are really learning anything. I think a big part of learning involves discussions and debates. I feel students need to share their ideas and opinions in order to formulate new ideas and opinions. Also, as a teacher, I would find a class like this boring. It would be boring to teach students who are all from the same cookie cutter form, spitting back to me what they think I want to hear. To me, I’m not teaching them what they need to survive in the real world if they do this. If students have a different opinion than I do, I like to try to persuade them that I am right and by doing this, both of us grow from this experience and I am showing them that learning is a lifelong experience for all.

These are some of the reasons my classroom has been successful. What makes your classroom successful?

Photo credit: rainbow series 1 by mick y


skip zalneraitis said...

Very wise and sensitive and...touching. Thank you.

M-Dawg said...

Communication, creating a caring and safe environment, and a willingness to have fun and make a fool out of myself every single day! :-)

Loved your references/connections to a garden - very inspiring! :-)

Anonymous said...

I appreciate the tie between gardening and teaching; its a nice reminder to let students be who they are. The kids are the plants for sure; when we allow the sun to shine and water to flow, they will grow!

Kevin Murray

loonyhiker said...

Skip, m-dawg, and Kevin: I'm glad you enjoyed this post. Stay tuned for another teaching/gardening post next week.

:: Suzanne :: said...

Oh I'm so pleased my Writing & Gardeningessay was helpful. Thanks!