Talk to any teacher, this first month of school has been a stressful one. Instead of launching into the reasons why, I wanted to revel in the positives of this week. And when there are positives to hold on to, they come from one of two places: colleagues or students, and if I am lucky a combination of both.
Yesterday at my team meeting, I was lamenting the fact that the rocking chair in my classroom was in disrepair. The chair was a gift from my sister given to me before the birth of my first daughter, Jane. It sat in my girls' room and was used to nurse, rock and cuddle my babies until they became too big for us to sit together comfortably. When I returned to teaching after my maternity leave, Jane was 3 and Sammy 2, I brought my rocking chair with me into Room 356. It was a lovely reminder of my kids while offering a comfy option for my other kids', my students', to read in.
So for the past five years, many a 7th grader has sat in that chair. And due to extreme use, the bottom crossbars secured to the rockers have broken. I explained to my teammates that I was worried it might become unsafe. My teaching assistants (thanks, Mrs. B and Mrs. P!) without missing a beat suggested I ask the technology department at FMS and explained the tools and word working that students learn in tech class. So once we finished the meeting, I headed back to my room and emailed the tech department attaching photos of the condition my rocking chair was in and wondering if there was anything they could do to repair it. Within 20 minutes, I had a reply from Mr. Ball saying, of course, he would and to send the chair down. I was so happy! I planned on walking it downstairs after school but didn't get the chance.
Not an hour later, Mr. Ball appeared in 356 and swiftly rescued my chair. We had never talked about how long it would take. I didn't care. The thought that it would be repaired was all I could think about. I imagined in a couple of weeks having my chair back without the bottom looking as though it would fall apart. And not an hour after he had rescued the chair, Mr. Ball had returned with it! He instructed me not to allow anyone to sit it in it until tomorrow, I showered him with thanks and as quickly as he had arrived, he was gone. I was stunned as I looked at the rocking chair and saw that it was as good as new. You couldn't even tell that it had been broken. Colleagues are good like that. When someone needs help or reaches out, you almost always can be sure that you will find the support you need. From my teammates who listened and helped me problem solve to Mr. Ball volunteering his time and expertise to save my chair, I am truly lucky to have colleagues who care.
The day following all of this, my team was able to volunteer our time by taking a field trip to the Patroon Land Farm, which is an organic farm that donates all the food it grows to the Regional Food Bank. Each year our team travels to the farm to bond and do a bit of good. While for our past trips we have been blessed with beautiful weather, today was not one of those days. Instead of working in the fields harvesting vegetables, we were relegated to the greenhouse as the rain poured down outside. We were tasked with separating seedling trays. As you can see below, there were thousands of them!
The work was messy. The trays were obviously dirty and wet. While we never stepped in the fields, you would never know by looking at us. Dirty hands, fingernails, even a few cuts from the plastic trays as prying the trays loose was challenging at times. This was not an easy job. Some members of the team worked non-stop, always looking for another stack to separate. Some had a hard time focusing on the same task for an extended period of time and were distracted by the excitement of the driving rain and the temptation of playing around with the mud.
|As you can see, Anthony worked extremely hard!|
After about thirty minutes of working, students began to ask if this was all we would be doing. I shrugged but added that we sadly couldn't go outside because of the rain. So we continued separating and stacking the trays. Finally though, word spread around the room of why we were doing what seemed to a twelve-year-old a boring and unimportant (compared to getting the chance to work in the fields) task. Turns out that this job, when done by the staff on the farm, takes all winter. What our team, over 100 people, over 200 hands, could accomplish in less than two hours was saving the farm months of work. I couldn't believe it. And not only that, but these trays were truly the first step in the process of growing their crops. In these trays would be planted the initial seeds that they would tend until they were ready to be planted in the fields. From there the crops will grow, be harvested, and make their way to the Regional Food Bank to feed the hungry. And now our team has helped in all of that. Amazing.
I made my way back to the students who had questioned why we were doing this work and watched as their expressions turned from frustration to understanding. We got back to work and quickly finished the last of the trays. Once finished, the farm staff gave us a very nice thank you for all of our hard work. They were impressed with how efficient we were and, by the looks on their faces, very grateful to have this tedious task completed.
I am so grateful that our week ended with such a positive bonding experience. Teaching 7th grade certainly has its daily challenges. But we come back every day and do our best to guide, teach and nurture our current crop of students.