Monday, January 4, 2010

The first day back at work.

Toadstool, originally uploaded by mhall209.

Today we started a new semester. I knew there would be a number of changes to my day as some of my classes were switched. I was to have fewer students and I was going to no longer have some of the students who were not being successful in my classes. But thats all I knew. Would I keep the same students? How many of them? When would I have them? Would I have any new students? There were a lot of questions coming in to work today, none of which I could do anything about. I would just have to wait and see which students I would be working with. It matters because I have a project based class where students design and implement their own projects. If I don't know which students I have I don't know what projects we will be doing!

One of the projects my students work on is an organic garden. The garden is really important to them. I struggled with this garden when I took it over this year when another teacher left. I didn't quite see why we have a garden. We are supposed to be a standards based school, and I don't know about too many organic gardening standards for the 9-12 grade levels. But to the kids it really matters. They fight about who gets to turn the compost. They care about what type of peppers get planted and if we should plant lettuce or peas. They rarely eat the produce, but they seem to be passionately concerned about what gets planted. And when it gets weeded, and by whom. I wondered this morning if we would still have a garden crew.

What I have found so far is that the garden gives them two things. It gives the students a place to move around. They work, and talk. They work hard, because if they don't their peers will fire them and they don't get to work next time. "We don't need any slackers, you ain't coming with" one of them will say. The grammar is not good, but the work ethic is. They take pride in their work in the garden, something many of them don't often seem to do at school. I usually don't have a student who says "Look here Mr. Hall, this is my history paper. I wrote this." But they write about the garden. Thats the second thing the garden gives them- something to write about for which they care. They write about what they did and why they did it. They write about what they are going to do. They write about what worked and what didn't work. And they write about what they could do better next time.

I think those are two pretty good reasons to have an organic garden in a high school.

No comments:

Post a Comment