Updated: Jun 2, 2019
Plants grow chiefly from air and water. Soil and nutrients along with sunshine help a plant grow strong and fruitful. If students are the plants in a garden, then distractions are the weeds. Distractions might be jokes, friends, games, family concerns, self-efficacy. Weeds are not always bad. Weeds can often be simply misplaced plants that do benefit from the same care as those being cultivated in a garden.
Motivation and positive messaging is the air that we breathe. This air can be positive and reflect specific beliefs toward punishments and rewards that are heard and seen with each experience. The kind of air and messaging can be shaped. Part of this air involves the sunshine which provides the energy for plants - for students this energy comes from play.
Water is not automatically available to all plants and not all plants require the same amount and quality of water. Water is the care, interest, and personal connection for students. A teacher can provide air for students with intentional motivation and positive messaging, but without watering (or investing) with enough care, interest, and personal connection, the students may not grow. A teacher that connects personally with students and their families provides the necessary fresh water tailored to the needs of each student.
Text books, practice sheets, websites, and explicit direct instruction, these are the soil and nutrients. These nutrients provide the direction and stability for specific learning to develop and evolve into strong plants and students over time. With each passing year, students will need soil with increasingly complex nutrients. Areas of a school campus can be designed, classrooms equipped, and teachers hired to provide such specialized instruction.
When students become strong enough, their fruit will become the development of interests into professional pursuits with intent to benefit communities.
The approach of a classroom teacher can be that of a gardener, cultivating an environment for plants to grow strong and fruitful. Any aspect of this garden not provided can result in a garden with plants that may grow, but may never know their full potential. Master gardeners are always learning new ways to cultivate new and interesting plants that fill our world with new and interesting colors, personalities, and innovative ideas.
Help your students grow. Reflect on your skills and approach. Celebrate and share the resources you provide your plants. Collaborate on new ways to approach weeds. Improve your cultivating skills with intent. Make this world more beautiful and interesting every year.