The 2017-2018 school year is off and running! I always compare my career and my adventures in edtech to gardening. Every year there’s new blooms, and those precious blooms are beautiful if we take the time to focus on them. Growth is plentiful, diversity is celebrated in my garden, and the harvest is always worth the wait.
Unfortunately, all good gardeners have their share of thorns, bugs, and toiling to do to ensure the beauty mentioned above. Being an educator is tough, back-breaking, work and we all know it doesn’t stop when the dismissal bell rings or the calendar on the school year expires.
This year, like all years past, the blooms arriving are different. Some have wilted a bit from failure to water, fertilize, lack of sunshine, or improper placement in the garden. Some of these blooms have opened more fully, grown sturdier, and explored richer soils over the summer. Yet, as public school teachers we embrace every bloom, in every condition and begin the farmer’s task of fertilizing, weeding, and watering to ensure growth and strength in the foundational stems (ie softskills) that are necessary for longevity, success, and survival.
These traitorous villains may look deceptively innocent, but they certainly wreak havoc in a garden. They nibble away at the blooms and the gardener’s ability to maintain adequate and equitable growth. The pests; while inconvenient, don’t destroy gardens if tended to. However, they are formidable and if focused on too much can be morale killers. These bugs in the garden of learning might include; class sizes, technical difficulties, lack of funding, diminishing prep times, and feeling as if your voice is unheard.
Then there are the thorns…
Those adaptive torture devices that coincide with beauty and humble the most experienced of gardeners. The thorns in an educator’s garden are grown as a result of circumstances beyond our control. World tragedies, Mother Nature’s fierce storms, community strife, illnesses, addictions, deaths, student trauma, etc. These thorns, while protective devices developed to help the plant perservere, make it hard for the gardener to tend to the plant without suffering side effects.
These blooms are ours. We want them to grow, prosper, and flourish! We can’t shelter the blooms from all of life’s bugs and thorns, even though we desperately wish we could. We are super heroes, but we don’t have supernatural powers. We are humans gardening in the soil, with the seeds we are given.
Today I want to focus on the blooms, the beauty. Today I want to celebrate a month of safe, sound gardening. Today I want to remind all educators to focus on the growth and not get waylaid by the thorns and bugs that bring us down. Today I want us to celebrate our successes and not get mired down in the muck. We are gardeners, toiling together, and ensuring our blooms get what they need and grow in the safety of our school garden. I look around today, and every day and smile filled with #wyasdpride as a witness my co-workers and the students in our charge doing amazing things despite the bugs and thorns that dwell in our school garden. Today I say, “Cheers to another excellent crop to come!”