Monday, April 12, 2010

Weeds in my Garden

weeds It is now spring time which makes me start to focus on my gardens. It is during this time that I know I need to get out all the weeds that are appearing and plan for new plants to be planted. I have all these bright ideas and hopes for good things to come.

Dandelions are a weed in my yard, yet many people make dandelion wine. Some violets are cute in the forest but I don’t want them littering my green lawn. In fact, some people sprinkle sugar on them and add them to their salads. What one person considers a weed may be considered a beauty to others.

I want a pretty garden. But it takes work. And I mean a lot of work; work that is not so pretty and fun like weeding and mulching. It is dirty, sweaty work. But it is necessary if I want to achieve my goal of a beautiful garden.

As I’m weeding my flower beds, I wonder about these small tender plants that I’m pulling out. They are a nuisance and they make my flower beds look ugly. But what is the purpose of a weed? Surely they were put on this planet for a reason (other than to drive me crazy or help me lose weight by weeding instead of eating). In fact, some of these so called weed are actually pretty. I don’t usually know the names of these weeds but I know that I don’t want them in my flower bed mixing with my beautiful flowers.

Sometimes I look at my class that way on the first day. I am full of anticipation and hope and I think my students are too. I have goals in mind for how I want them to grow. But it is going to take a lot of work to get there. It will take a lot of dirty, sweaty work. And it might not be fun at times either.

Then it hit me. This is exactly how I see some students in my class. Some of them are just weeds. They are a nuisance and keep me from achieving my goal. I want to yank them out and get rid of them from the room. I don’t want them mixing with my other beautiful wonders.

But what is their purpose in my class? Surely there is a reason for them but will I take the time and effort to find out what it is? Am I willing to get “dirty and sweaty” for the same of some weeds? How many times have I written them off in my mind? Oh, they are just weeds. I don’t need to really know them because I’m getting rid of them. I hate to say that this happens but I have to be honest and admit to feeling this way sometimes. Sometimes I just don’t give these poor weeds a chance to thrive and show their beauty.

I hope that I can stop and look at each student as a flower instead of a weed. I hope I give each one a chance to thrive and survive in order to show me their beauty. There is a purpose but I just need to find out what it is. I need to search for the answer and not give up. I believe if I can do this with every student, I would be a more successful teacher.

So, do you have any weeds in your classroom?

Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).

Original image: 'Summer field' by: b k


Lisa Parisi said...

Interesting analogy. Dandelions were brought here by early European settlers to line their flower beds. They only took off as weeds here because of the soil. Had they stayed in Europe, they might not have created such a nuisance. Perhaps our classroom "weeds" would be flowers if the soil were right for them. And maybe our job as gardeners is to create the proper climate to create only flowers.

Paul Bogush said...

Just as American farmers have moved to a market farm model in which only one type of product can be accepted on a farm, so too has the American education system.

All flowers and vegetables were once weeds. It takes an incredible amount of time to bring a weed to a point were it can fit into our marketplace. It takes an incredible amount of time to take a weed student and "fit" them into our classrooms.

I have a friend who always points out the abundance of weeds in his yard. Says he loves celebrating diversity. Always taking about how no matter what kind of weather we are having there is always something in his yard flourishing.

The "weather" changes frequently outside of our classrooms, with more and more testing the "weather" inside our classrooms is kept constant. What will happen to the kids...weeds and flowers...when they leave school and encounter their first storm? drought? freeze?

Amie said...

It is easy to write off students and consider them weeds and hope for only flowers, but take it a bit further. Every student is a weed. Even your most successful student has one part of them that you don't like. For example, they are smart but call out and don't give the other student's a chance to think. Another student who is smart and well behaved may also chose to play by themselves and always exclude other students. It is easier to think you have some students who are weeds and some who are flowers, then think maybe they are all weeds. but an effective teacher will see them as all flowers with a few thorns and bugs living on them that may need to be sorted out a bit. That's our job isn't it?

loonyhiker said...

@Amie I loved your statement "Every student is a weed." If any teacher says they have loved every student they taught, I would call them a liar. In fact some students that I really enjoyed sometimes got on my nerves. Thanks for your comments.