Monday, December 8, 2014

25 Kids in the Garden?

     So what do we do with 25 kids in the garden? It has been quite an adventure introducing students and teachers to the amazing world of gardening. For many, meeting me in their school garden may be their first gardening experience. This first step into the amazing world of growth, wonder, and weeding is important- so it needs to be a good experience (not mass chaos).
     The question asked every time an appointment is set- what do we do with 25 kids in the garden- is simply answered- put them to work. While the answer is simple, implementing the answer is not. A little planning, introducing, and explaining goes a long way.
25 Kids and Me
1. Clear introduction.
    Upon arrival I like to gather the masses and make some clear introductions: to myself, to the garden, to the expectations and the basic garden etiquettes. It is important to set boundaries regarding the use of tools, hoses, and fertilizers as well as defining walking paths and general safety.
2. Divide and conquer.
    I like to put together teams: water, soil, plant. Water team ensures the plants get a drink, apply fertilizer if needed, and are careful to keep their eye out for beneficial insects (which they will tell us about). Soil teams handle aerating, applying mulch, and compost turning- they are always on the look out for interesting decomposition and soil beneficials. The plant team is all about plants- those we intended and those we didn't.. harvesting and weeding, always watching for evidence of a pest!
3. Team leaders.
     It is important to involve any adults that may be on hand; parents, teachers, extra staff. They are learning right along with their classes.
4. Finally- come and share!
    The final moments of garden time are dedicated to sharing our experiences. What did you spot? A spider in the peach tree? Earthworms in the compost? Maybe chewing marks on a leaf? What did we harvest? A radish? Maybe things were not quite ready. Share something you learned or a question you thought of. Maybe you learned the name of a weed you pulled. This brings a sense of fairness to the reality- not everyone gets to do the same thing each time.
5. Next time rotate the teams to a new responsibility!
    Give the opportunity to learn each area of garden care and responsibility. Gardens are always growing and changing, offering so many opportunities for learning. Keep them engaged and looking forward to the next garden visit.
      Now, you may be asking where I fit into this plan? I am moving and rotating through each and every team- sometimes answering questions, calming squabbles, and directing attention to things they may not realizing they are seeing (like a ladybug eating aphids). The first few visits can be a bit stressful, but they get the hang of it in no time and before I know it teachers are taking on the gardens with very little outside assistance (and that is the goal- independence).
      The final question- does it work with less than 25? Sure. How do you think I gardened with my own kids?

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Trying to Catch My Breath

A flurry of activities
work commitments...
functions of every kind.
These days I find myself trying to catch my breath..
to focus
stay on top of things
to function without losing my mind amidst
a calendar
and the things that pierce us so deep we dare not discuss it.
This weekend found me
unable to wrap my mind around the events that present themselves.
Sometimes we are pressed so hard we no longer see.
That's where we are...
and I am trying to catch my breath.
Next week will find me
pushing the clock
packing the car
planning the break
and creating new distractions to keep me from losing my mind.
But for now
I am trying to catch my breath.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

I Grew an Orange.

Michele Scaife's photo.
     I grew an orange; a Satsuma, to be specific. While this may seem hardly worth the effort to talk about, for me this is a huge feat! In the four years that tree has been in my garden the only thing I got from it was frustration; blossom drop, fruit dropping, and the almighty drought were to thank. This year, however, I grew an orange!
     Trivial, maybe, but this orange is my 'one thing' right now. Do you have that? A 'one thing' that makes you feel everything is okay. It allows you to just take a breath and sigh. The past several weeks have been a flurry of activity, productivity and chaos- none of which anyone cares to hear about. Today I really needed 'one thing' to set my focus. God is good- He sent the right thing at the right time.
    So, simple as it is, I proclaim loudly with juice dripping down my chin- I grew an orange!

Friday, September 26, 2014

What Do You Do When?

     A funny conversation happened at my conference, right after one of my presentations. I was approached by an older couple who noted that, by my mannerism and enthusiasm, I had to be a teacher. It gets funnier.
You must be a teacher. Only a teacher speaks like that.
Why, thank you, yes I am.
What do you do when you are not teaching?
What? I am always teaching.
What do you do when you are not in the classroom?
I teach outside.
What do you do when you are home?
Teach my family.
And when you sleep?
I dream about teaching.
You are a strange, yet passionate woman- your husband has his hands full.
You have no idea!
       We walked away with a hearty laugh and a precious hug, seeing each other often though out the course of the week. While the conversation may seem odd, I treasure it, for it is encouraging that others see my heart when I speak. For me, all of life is a classroom and every one I meet is either teaching me or being taught by me. I am blessed by this sweet couple and their gentle humor at my goofy, yet very real way of being me. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

I'm Traveling- Can You Believe It?

airplane photo: airplane airplane-2.jpg
     I woke up today facing the very thing that had been plaguing me for weeks; traveling. Not just a 'toss a few things in the bag and zip off in the car' traveling- I am talking pack your necessities, and your 'professional casuals' and hop a plane traveling. This body has not graced an airport in over 20 years and let me tell you, things have definitely changed!
     My first experience in the airport since my married life began left me absolutely perplexed. I was flagged- pulled out of line, patted down, hand swabbed, bags searched flagged. Separated from by traveling buddy, I proceeded to get lost in the airport for what seemed like eternity, but was most likely fifteen minutes. Wow. Off to a great start, I then managed to get pulled out of the boarding when my pass buzzed. After a few phone calls they allowed my passage with no explanation for the panic. Obviously I am a dangerous menace.
     Tonight I sit in a hotel, far from home, winding down after a long journey. Tomorrow will find me listening, learning, speaking and breathing. I don't often find myself surrounded by adults- so this will be interesting.
     For now, a little hotel room yoga, a soak in the tub, and goodnight!