Saturday, February 23, 2013

Winter on the School Farm

For those of you reading this that don't already know, I teach at an agriculture charter school. We didn't begin that way, but chose that path for a multitude of reasons. Our students are thriving and even though it is hard work, it truly is what is best for our school family.

On our school grounds we have a barn complete with pigs, chickens, cows, sheep and a donkey. We have a greenhouse, a wind turbine and a school garden. All of this comes with chores...animals must be fed, plants must be watered and all of this needs to happen regardless of how much snow may be on the ground. Our classrooms rotate being responsible for all the chores, with each class taking a week and the teacher is in charge of the weekends.

Well this week just happened to be my week. 

So while everyone was snuggled under their covers Thursday morning on our first snow day, I trudged out to school (thankful my three girls and our oldest daughter's boyfriend agreed to come along and help) to take care of the day's chores.
The drive out was slow and I have never been so thankful for my truck as I have been these past few days!

Upon arriving the first thing we saw was Eeyore the donkey, looking quite miserable :(
As you can see behind him, he has a perfectly warm hut full of straw to go in to but he preferred standing out in the snow. Silly Eeyore!!!

We then went into the barn where we were greeted with our next surprise! One of our school ewes had lambed during the night and had two new baby lambs to care for!
They were so tiny and so cute!

Now time to bottle feed the dairy calf!
Nothing like a warm bottle on a cold, snowy day!

Earlier in the week when I had been doing chores I smelled the overwhelmingly smell of a skunk and it seemed close. We had been pretty sure that it had burrowed itself underneath the chicken coop, but I was very nervous going into the chicken pen to feed our chickens and even more nervous opening up the coop doors...worried it would be waiting for me in there. 
You can see our friend the skunk has made himself a nice little hole not far from the chicken feeder. He has dragged chicken feed from the feeder into his hole and there are skunk tracks all over the chicken yard. 

So this week has been an adventure. 
Chores have taken a little longer and it has been a little colder but all is a day in the life of a teacher (well teachers at my school anyway :)) The weather man is predicting even more snow beginning tomorrow night, but my week of chores ends tomorrow and I will gladly pass the torch onto the next teacher in charge!

But it sure is beautiful!!!!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Snow Day!!!

Today it snowed...and snowed. For some areas, that may be nothing new, but for us it has been a rarity the past few winters and my students were so excited!!

We even went out for just a few moments to get a measurement of how much snow had fallen so far. At 12:40 our next door neighbor of kindergarten students measured 1 1/2 inches of snow and by 2:00 when we went out to measure it was already at 2 inches.

and tomorrow is an official SNOW DAY!!!!!!!!!! So excited to spend the day at home with my girls!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Officially 7

7 years (and 3 days ago) my husband and I gave each other the best gift on Valentine's Day and now she is growing up so quickly! All three of our baby girls....aren't babies anymore. Today we celebrated with family and friends at a bowling birthday party and all had a great time.
Happy Birthday Brooklynn!!!!

At seven she is getting more and more independent every day and wants to be able to do everything her older sisters are doing. She is reading better and better every day and you can really hear her voice in the stories she writes. She loves Justin Bieber :) and is quite the social butterfly. All three of our girls light up our world in so many ways.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Changing Paradigms

I just finished watching a video on youtube of an event that Sir Ken Robinson was speaking at. It is a long video, but definitely well worth the watch. He outlines in the video that education does indeed need to be reformed, but is the current state of our reform the correct one? I agreed with most everything that he said. He spends a lot of time talking about the reasons education became necessary was solely for economic utility. Students went to school so that they could perform the basic functions needed to work and make money. School was very similar to a factory assembly line. We all sit in desks, bell rings, switch classes, lunch, etc. I feel that our world has changed drastically since the need for this type of education.

We have a new generation with new learners, but haven't made much of a change in our educational systems and can't seem to figure out why are students aren't performing to the level we want. We haven't changed much of anything. Currently our nation is rolling out "common core standards" which I feel like still mirrors the assembly line type of education. All need to learn these core standards and let's put the emphasis on English Language Arts and Math and leave little or no time for any other subject matter. Our students are being forced down paths that they may or may not feel passionate about. I do agree that reading, writing and math are very important, but it belittles everything else in our world. We often put mandates on our students that take away the things they love and turn them into something required.

Currently in my district we are required to do a 90 minute reading block with no interruptions, across the board K-12. Students that love to read and enjoy being read to do not necessarily enjoy a forced 90 minute reading block. We often think that if we require something to happen then our scores will improve and the students will learn more. I really resonated with Sir Ken Robinson when he said people do their best when doing what they love. My own children love to read. On weekends they could spend hours curled up in a chair reading a book of their choosing without me telling them to, but when they are forced to read a book someone else chose in a forced time frame they hate it. We take away the joy and the passion for learning for forcing all students to do what we ask without asking them what they "love to do". Putting all the emphasis on English Language Arts and Math isn't going to ignite passion in our students for the most's going to put the fire out. Students want to be heard, they want to learn about things that are important to them. We put them in a room with other students and force them to learn what we think is most important and don't allow them to be creative or imaginative. We expect them to all learn the same set of information in the same given time frame in the same way.

As a teacher, I see the struggles and the need for change, but when we ourselves our mandated to teach a certain way, at a certain time, with a certain set of do I fix it? It needs to be a complete change in thinking and I feel like until the people that are closest to education are able to help make the big decisions the current state of problems and issues will continue. My own school is a project-based charter school with a lot of flexibility in how we educate, but it is still very difficult with district and state mandates and requirements and assessments that often say what you can and cannot do. Our students are in a changing world with information at their fingertips, but yet we send them to schools that our teaching much like they did fifty years ago. Our students deserve better.

You can watch the video by clicking on the link.Changing Paradigms