I want to take a minute and shift focus to an area in my life I haven’t really talked about here. I want to bring it up because, while I love being a mother and I’m so looking forward to our summer plans, another huge part of my life is my job.
I teach adult education, meaning I help folks who are returning to school after anywhere from a few weeks to a few decades (or more) get their high school diplomas. I have a completely epic job. It is hands down the most amazing thing I could be doing with my time, outside of raising my children with my husband. I get to work with incredible staff and students, see people accomplish goals they never thought they could, and regularly be thanked for the effort I put forth.
Tonight we graduated thirty students from our program. They ranged in age from just barely 18 to nearly 80. Graduation day is like Christmas for me – all the handwork of the last year (or more, depending on the student) comes to fruition. Before the ceremony, everyone, no matter how old or jaded they are, is jittery and excited. After the ceremony, everyone just glows. There hugs and thank you and good-byes. I love watching everything. The faces of our students as they look at their loved ones, their children or younger siblings especially, tell the whole story – they kicked ass and beat the odds set against them.
I am so incredibly proud of each of them.
Mama’s Forest School, as a blog and as a concept, was inspired by the fact that my daughter hates conventional school. I want her to experience hands-on learning, to see that education is good and that you can learn in ways that don’t require worksheets and sitting at a desk. This is a lesson I have tried to impart on my students as well – that not all learning has to come from a textbook and certainly all knowledge is not found between my ears, nor any other teacher’s.
More than once I’ve wished I could create a forest school for my adult students, a majority of whom have ADD/ADHD, or are kinesthetic/hands-on learners. They come to us often broken by the system, insistent that they are stupid and that they just aren’t good students. As I’ve tried to do for E. I try to do for them – I try to instill in them that they are not only brilliant, but they are good students, we just have to do it their way.
This summer is dedicated to E., whom I see in many of my students. I hope E. gets to see herself in a different light as a learner and I hope that I get to bring back many stories, ideas, and new things to try with my new batch of students who will come into my classroom next fall.