No TNFC this week, I'm afraid! We are barreling towards the end of the school year and I'm a bit swamped. Last night was another event at the kids' school so we were there all evening. The rest of this week I'm coordinating planting and garden activities at the school, the kids have their final soccer games of the season (thank goodness - I have a terrible attitude about soccer but they want to keep playing for now) and I have one last gig this weekend. I know everybody's busy, so I'm not really complaining, but the family cooking activities just aren't happening at the moment.
Maybe we'll make some french fries for FRY-day...yuk yuk. Or I might collapse in a sweaty, dirt-covered heap. We'll see what happens.
I have been working outside with nearly all the students at my kids' school for the last two weeks, essentially since the semester wrapped up for college students. As such, I have witnessed a gamut of behaviors. It's a public elementary school so as you can expect, among the kids there is a wide range of experience being outside and working in the dirt. Some of them like it, some of them don't. When we bring a class outside, though, we have a variety of tasks and most of the time every kid finds something they really like doing. There are always a couple who love to be helpers fetching water or carrying straw. Some kids could dig all day but couldn't care less about actually planting anything. And I love the weed-pullers; often kids who can't sit still in the classroom make the best weed-pullers because it's a way for them to channel all that energy. It's one of the few activities for which they are encouraged to be destructive.
We have an enormous problem with students who are unable to pay attention and listen to instructions, though. I don't spend a lot of time talking, mind you. For example, I've got my planting spiel down to something like: "Step 1: DIG A HOLE. Step 2: TAKE YOUR PLANT OUT OF THE POT AND PUT IT IN THE HOLE. Step 3: FILL THE HOLE BACK IN AND GIVE IT SOME WATER." And then you give them the trowel and a spot in the garden and the kids look at you blankly and say, "What do I do now?" Seriously, this happens all. the. time. They get it eventually, though, and I figure after six years spent in elementary school, maybe by the end of it half of them will remember how to transplant a flower.
I have to be honest with you. The kids who get under my skin aren't the ones who ordinarily have the most behavior issues in the classroom. The fidgety ones need to fidget. The loud ones will be loud. Those are the kids who need to be outside the most, in fact. No, the ones who bother me are the entitled kids, the ones who think they know more than you and don't need to listen because they are used to making their own choices all the time and haven't been taught that a teacher's authority and expertise deserves respect from the get-go. Most often, these are children from privileged homes.
"We need another pepper plant in this spot," I say, pointing to the ground, "so start digging a hole right here." "No, I want to put it here," Kid replies and starts flinging dirt a mere two inches away from where someone else just planted a flower. When I gently remind Kid that plants need space to grow so please plant it where I said, Kid starts playing with the fence because Kid thinks it needs to be easier to step over. I send Kid to fetch straw, which Kid only does after accidentally stepping on all the tomatoes that were planted because Kid ignored my request to step on the marked paths in the garden plot. I grind my teeth a little and turn around to deal with a group of girls who are scraping lazily at the ground with their shovels and chit-chatting away and looking as bored as possible.
These aren't teenagers, by the way. These are first graders.
This gig takes patience, and I'm getting better at it. I'm getting pretty good at giving succinct instructions, at being authoritative, and finding different tasks to suit different temperaments, depending on the activity and how long we have to do it.
What about you? What are you doing outside?