By Chrissie Wilson
With summer in the rearview mirror the Grange Audubon education team is gearing up for the 2017-2018 Conservation Classroom school year. Because the world is always changing each school year is different, but there are few constants we can look forward to.
Every week, every session, will teach everyone new things. Each and every year we, as educators, are taught something new by the children we are lucky enough to work with. Often it’s something simple and small, but sometimes we get lucky enough to learn a whole new point of view. They’ll tell us a story about nature in their lives and we’ll develop a new understanding of how children view the world around them.
We’ll also have moments where we can see the adults these kids will become. It’s so important that we hold in our minds that these children are the future of the planet. Compassionate interactions between our students act as constant, joyful reminders of this fact. One student might step up to help a classmate, or perhaps one will take a moment to be kind to an animal, and in these moments we’ll see the leaders they’ll become. Our aim is not to make “good kids,” but to help them educate and discover responsibility for themselves as they grow. Through small acts of kindness we’ll see our students as promises of the wonderful adults they will become.
In a few instances we’ll teach students whose actions are often construed as misbehavior but are actually a student being so excited to explore that they forget their “classroom manners.” These kids won’t stop digging in the mud for macroinvertebrates, turning over logs, or continuing to walk through the forest when it’s time to move on with the hike. These are the students who wiggle and move. They might speak out of turn, or a raised hand might be accompanied with a “call on me!” This lively and gifted student in Conservation Classroom will surprise his or her teacher by being so involved and so creative when he or she can be so quiet and withdrawn inside the school walls. As proven to us time and time again, nature helps us realize our place in the world and our wonderment at its marvels.
Lastly, unlike during our summer programming, we’re fortunate enough to see our Conservation Classroom students multiple times each year. We’ll see the length of the journey and the value of repeated information as it builds in their minds. We’ll plant the seed and watch as it grows to eventually bear fruit. We know that, years from now, they’ll remember these three visits to the Audubon and what they learned.
Fall is here. Lesson plans are ready, pencils are sharpened, and we’re ready to learn right alongside our students. We can’t wait to see what this school year holds.