I chose a homegrown Oregon artist, Steve Terrill,to feature with the last Reflective Teacher blog prompt of January: Share about a time you experienced the joy of learning alongside your students.
The last week before a quarter ends is always trying for me. Grading is my least favorite part of my job and it seems like it is the highest priority in education right now. Don’t get me wrong, I favor quick checks for understanding and I do receive some level of satisfaction in looking at data to figure out if all students are progressing. I just don’t agree with the current data and assessment heavy focus. I do think it is harmful to children and I’m trying to figure out how I can maintain my professionalism in this climate yet speak up on behalf of the children. That’s another blog post!
Some of Steve Terrill’s photography zooms in on an object and brings out the structural or organic beauty of a piece of an object. The heart leaf photo in this blog post brings out a beautiful contrast in colors and makes you see an ordinary yellow leaf in a new light.
The one silver lining to the end of any quarter in my room is that the children get to do something student-selected such as an investigation. An investigation is a mini research project where a student poses a question they are interested in knowing an answer to and developing a simple project out of it to share with the class. This independent and highly engaging project helps me get all my assessments, conferences, and make up work collected in time for grades. It also always reminds me what I wish we had more time for in the day! Last week I listened to investigations on these topics: How the Hawaiian islands were formed (student spent her early years there and connected us to her culture), The history of lipstick (who knew the ancient Filipinos adorned their lips with crushed gemstones?), and What was the first laptop like? to name a few.
I love riding sidecar with my class and always model that daily by visibly expressing my aha moments. The expression on their faces is priceless when they realize they have stepped into “my role”. So, thanks Steve Terrill, for capturing a vision that beautifully illustrates the importance of remembering to find joy during the most mundane parts of my job! And thanks to the reflective teacher community for all the sharing and learning opportunities and for providing a needed creative outlet.