Today I had the honor of attending a field trip with one of my children, and it reminded me about the amazing power that teachers have over the minds, values, and excitement for learning our children develop. It was chilly, gusty, and damp at Sauganash Prairie Grove this morning when the class of about 25 stepped off the bus. But the children, an incredibly diverse group of brilliant minds, gathered around their ecology and classroom teachers as the mission of the day was shared.
“We are here to look at the native flowers,” the ecology teacher began. “Now, we need to remove the invasive weeds so that next year these flowers grow everywhere,” he continued for a moment.
The students listened before answering a range of questions about the different parts of the flowers, connections they had to previous learning and trips, and how to engage with mother earth. Then they were off in a range of directions to explore, learn, and engage in stewardship.
While I was tempted to feel bothered by the dreary conditions that were already numbing my toes, I found it almost impossible. My group was an energetic bunch that reflected everything we would want from students. In tuned to every last detail of a plant to have the ability to determine whether is was a native flower or an invasive weed. They were detail-oriented, persistent, collaborative, and both developing and sharing multiple processes for identifying different variations of the same weeds.
It was awe inspiring. I know that they will go back to school and engage in other content area learning. But this was something different – both organic and meticulously planned. It is something that so many teachers work to build all around the world – a spark, a joy for learning. So, to all educators around the world that work tirelessly to build these experiences when parents are around (and when we are not), I thank you. No words can capture the appreciation for all that you do and the lasting imprint of your work on each and every child you encounter.
You are appreciated!