Friday, July 19, 2013
Hello friends! I am visiting my parents in Ohio. It's a bittersweet visit as I am helping them pack and move out of my childhood home. It's a stage in my life that I've been dreading.
When I got there, my mom had everything that belonged to me in the corner of the basement. My first job was to go through it all to see what I wanted and throw away the rest. UGH.
I'm not good at throwing things away and got anxious as I faced the task before me. The first box I opened was my wedding gown. Great. Let's just go straight for the jugular. Keep or donate? I have two boys. It's unlikely anyone will ever want to wear it. But, it's beautiful and I can't imagine anyone having it but me. I kept it.
The next several boxes were all my college "teaching" stuff. What a trip down memory lane that was. Most of you whipper-snappers won't even believe me when I tell you that I found a box full of hand-made bulletin board sets. They were works of art by my-20-something-self. I had traced, cut out and decorated all the borders and lettering. I hand drew all the graphics and colored them. If they weren't so faded and crumbling, I might have used them. Now they are trash.
Back then, cross-curricular themes were all the rage. I found folders of units I had built with handwritten worksheets (with required excellent penmanship) and hand-drawn graphics on purple ditto masters (what are those?). If you were a good typist (no personal computers existed in the early 1980's), you might be brave enough to type your ditto masters before you ran them on a, now-extinct, ditto machine (there were no copy machines, either). When you passed out freshly run dittos, the students all smelled them because the chemical had a uniquely pleasant scent to it. I wonder how many brain cells were fried by ditto chemicals?
One thing I did love about my college prep program is how much time we spent in the classrooms of Columbus, Ohio, practicing what we were learning. I visited every type of school, every grade level, every socio-economic area, public and private. As I read all my observations and documentations, the memories came flooding back. I could feel the excitement I once experienced and remember the anxiety I felt, wondering if I would be worthy of the profession I loved.
It's funny, for as much as things changes, some things stay the same. All the things I documented in my observations and journals are situations I still continue to encounter year after year.
On the other hand, I miss how wonderfully pure teaching was. Teachers were more keenly aware of developmental theories, which played a bigger part in our lesson planning. I miss how there was room in the curriculum to explore and extend based upon a class's interests. It created such excitement and engagement in the classroom. There was more time for children to be creative in the classroom. Now, I always feel like I am rushing. It is so sad that there is no time to do these things in our current environment. The art of supporting a child developmentally is gone. Curriculums are jam-packed with expectations to master its standards because, come h*ll or high water, the test is coming.
I'm a sentimental soul. By the time I finished going through my pile, I was emotionally exhausted. I never thought I would be one of those people who would refer to the "old days". Education seems to swing on a pendulum. Maybe we'll swing back to a little "old ways" someday