Thursday, September 26, 2013
Reflection, I'm Not Alone
Cathy Harron, fourth grade teacher at Ressie Jeffries Elementary School in Front Royal, Virginia was heading up to PA with Hodge, full of excitement and nervous, not knowing what to expect from a professional development that actually centered around one of her favorite activities, hiking! We pulled up to the retreat and saw several people seated around in a circle, each one in what appeared to be a trance like mode. We looked at each other and both kind of backed away. Hodge tried to call ATC's Karen Lutz, but got no response. Luckily he had a smart phone or some sort of device that enabled him to find another entrance into the Kirkridge Retreat Center. Right place, wrong entrance. We were definitely happy to see Karen’s welcoming face as we came in.The next day was packed with learning. I had never put much thought into how the AT had come to be and found it very interesting to discover that it was not originally meant to be a through trail. There are a lot of wonders people take for granted simply because they have always been there. I believe it is very important that our children and our children’s children understand that the beauty and richness that comes from our national parks can only be preserved if everyone takes definite positive steps towards that goal. Activities ranged from lessons on phenology to global warming activities.
Sunday we hiked the trail and it was awesome. It wasn’t too hot or too cold. It wasn’t too windy or too still. It wasn’t too hard or too easy. Actually, what I liked best about the entire weekend was, for once, I wasn’t an anomaly. I’ve been told over and over by everyone I know that I am odd because I love to hike and camp and be outside and if I can’t find anyone to go with me, I’ll go by myself or bring my dog. If I had been born a man I guess I wouldn’t seem so odd to so many people but the older I get the fewer women I can find that are even willing to go outside for a pleasant walk never mind a hike. The week end of almost every female there loved the same activities I do. It was wonderful talking and laughing and just having fun with people like me.
One of my favorite subjects to teach is science. My co-workers don’t care for it as much because it isn’t cut and dried. I like the students to ask “why” and “how”. I want to take them outside and let them get dirty trying to find the answers. I want them to take the time to think, to discuss, to dream, to be problem solvers, inventers, evaluators.
I am hoping that this professional development will enable me to teach my students in a way that challenges them, intrigues them, and enables them to become valued citizens in their community while still aligning everything with the SOL tests in a strong enough way that they can pass the tests with impressive scores. Tall order - I know.
I do not usually take pictures. When I do I forget to get them developed. If they get developed they end up tossed on a chest, sometimes they even make it inside the chest, to be lovingly put in an album . . . someday. These pictures, however, illustrate the wonders that are so vital for our children to recognize and safeguard for future generations.