Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Vehicle to Changing Lives

It was nearly the end of the day at our Third School on Day Two. I did not realize the clock's hand snickering at me past the 1/2 hr mark, tinkering on as i peered into a music classroom at the end of a long hidden hallway. It was nearly empty aside from a couple students, a University faculty member, and what appeared to be the regular teacher of the classroom, a seemingly pleasant middle-aged African American man.

I hesitantly leaned in the doorway to take a peek, since there was no class going on and I wasn't sure whether or not to enter. "Well, come INTO the classroom not out of it!" he boomed and teased with a smile. I felt a sudden ripple of welcome and quiet urgency.

This was Mr. K, a music teacher at "R" Elementary School, and a man with a vision with a dash of wisdom that he said it took him 7 years to begin to understand. He is writing a book to impart some valuable points from experience because he doesn't want new teachers to blunder through the forest for that long before seeing some key concepts... We spoke about teaching and what it really means...

"Figure out your subject matter and what it really means to you," he said. "What kind of fingerprint will it leave on them?"

Am I passionate about my subject matter? Definitely. It is ingrained into my life each and every day and I now more than ever truly feel that the children are our hope and they are the vehicle for change just as the subject matter is our vehicle to changing lives. I felt empowered after these minutes. I felt that I would 'speak for Earth Science' in the classroom, be that voice/that passageway, because Earth Science could not speak for itself. I would be my wacky self and wear my passion on my sleeve, because this is who I am and the students need that.

But the breaking point was when I asked Mr. K to talk about the value of content matter versus other aspects important to truly teaching to the students.

He said, "Your content matter is just the vehicle to changing lives"
It's about changing lives.

This visit left this lasting impression on me and inspired me in several ways. So now that I've spoken about the thought provoking conversation at the end of my time at the school, I'll mention how my psyche took a flight through a Cloud 9 of excitement upon first ENTERING the school.

"R" Elementary School, part of the Public School school system in "Port City". This was an AWESOME project that the entire school (k-8) was involved in a fabulous interdisciplinary effort funded by a Rainforest action group. Each grade had projects displayed all over the halls and walls of the school about the life and value of the rainforest. ROCK ON I LOVE IT!!

This is the Amazon Rainforest, created by the students throughout the entire school. In interdisciplinary masterpiece, I feel it gave students a chance to transform their school visually for a time period, which probably really empowered them. And this is only the beginning. This display brings forth a gilded door to dozens of pockets of potential. Future lessons and activities can be built off of, connected to, and developed from this educationally decorative endeavour.


Katherine B. said...

The world of education will certainly be blessed to have your passion for teaching and for the sciences. I'm so glad you "figured out" your dream - this is what you were meant to do!!! :)


N said...

This Mr. K sounds fascinating, I would love to read his book. I really like the quote that refers to the content matter as the vehicle. This is something I have thought about myself as a future English/Language Arts teacher. In high school, it was these courses that changed the way I thought and expressed myself in all my other classes. It was definitely the vehicle for my development as a student and thinker in regards to all subject areas: history, theology, psychology, art history, philosophy, communication, literature, science, and now education. I do not believe it matters as much whether or not you can recall all the characters, the years, the incident between so-and-so and the other guy (though that may be good to know too), but whether the experience you had reading, discussing, exploring, and writing about the story and its ideas causes you to come away with a better understanding of something (a genre, an author, an era, an idea, yourself…).

UrbanEveEdublogg said...

Yes! I would love to read his book one day when it is complete also. It was SO inspiring speaking with Mr. K and what he shared really did click into place... He took such an interdisciplinary look at things too... He showed me an evaluation chart that he had distributed to his students to judge the spring concert and took mark down the presence of connections to all different subject areas (there were at least 9 or 10 listed). It was awesome. He made it about making connections and seeing the relevance of things - not just the subject matter.