Maybe the End of an Era?

Yesterday, I did something that I’ve been putting off. If you read my blog regularly, you know we’ve been cleaning out in anticipation of moving later this year. Sometimes cleaning out is easy. You look at something and think, why did I keep that piece of sh_t? Or, sometimes cleaning out is hard. We all have memories attached to the things we choose to keep and when one lives in one place for 15+ years (22 total in Wisconsin this May, from our previous residence in Buffalo, New York) things tend to accumulate. This is especially true when you are raising children. In our case, this means three boys who were active in both school and outside activities, needed enrichment and excelled in almost everything they did. I kept a lot of “their” stuff.

But, this post isn’t about their stuff. It’s about mine. Yesterday, I took the posters that I had developed (by hand) for the garden I led for 15 years (two schools, 600+ students) and threw them out. Well, most of them anyway. I took photographs of the posters, not that I’ll do anything with them, but to remind me of the passionate work I put into this group as a volunteer for so very long.

During the time I lead the garden clubs – one for thirteen years and one for two years after that – I wrote nearly all of my own curriculum. Not many school garden resources existed in 2004 when the club started. Hours and hours were spent researching, planning, and gathering materials for engaging hands-on activities. Most lessons included visuals, like posters and handouts, all of which I created from the information I gathered each month.

Many lessons were repeated year to year, but never without a reflective review from me about how well the lesson was received by students, how I could improve it, and how well I knew the material. I truly believe due to all the prep I put into the monthly lessons, the students got the best from me. I was confident in my knowledge and it showed in my delivery of the material. And, each year always included some brand new lessons as well as starting to query the students each fall as to what THEY wanted to learn. If we hadn’t covered it before, I developed a new unit.

Certainly, there were times that I answered, “I don’t know.” But that was also followed by, “let’s find out together and report back next month.” I wanted the students to think and ask questions. It was a very interactive and interdisciplinary meeting, bringing subject content in from all areas – science (of course), social studies (including geography, culture, lore, and legends about plants), reading, and writing (research projects were assigned each year) and I regularly stressed vocabulary by using word roots and glossaries, as well as offering a reading list of age-appropriate books regarding our subject for the month. Finally, math was stressed – there is a lot of math that can be found in gardening. The math applications grew into a school-wide monthly enrichment activity during the last few years of the club.

Most of this doesn’t show on the posters. I used the posters to reinforce content and vocabulary. But, they were a large part of my presentation. And, I loved every minute of making and sharing them.

I’ve been putting off this part of the cleaning. I knew it would be hard for me to get rid of those teaching aids. It’s like saying, “Okay, Carol, this part of your life is over.” I know that is not necessarily so, but it does feel like the end of an era.

Yeah, this clean-out session hurts a little bit.

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