What Picking Blueberries Reminded Me About Students

I am a teacher at my very core. I can be anyplace and find some connection to the art of teaching. A perfect example is just the other day as I was picking blueberries (thanks to a recommendation from my English Companion and Twitter friend, Ms. Stewart). I was making my way through the first bush I approached. With my bucket just beginning to fill, I looked around the bush and figured it was time to move on as I couldn’t find any more ripe berries. Just then, my sunglasses dropped and I reached down to pick them up. I happened to glance up into the bush to discover some of the biggest, juiciest berries. There they were when I had thought the bush had no more to offer. It just took looking at the same bush from a different perspective to find a new and bountiful harvest.

I am fascinated by the topic of student motivation and what engages kids in learning. My last post dealt with this topic and it is the topic I spend more time on than any when it comes to my classroom. I am always in search of that idea or perspective that will help me reach “that student”, you know “that student” who seems unreachable in spite of all your attempts. I haven’t decided if it is my ego that compels me to find the way to reach that young person (I’ll be darned if some teenager will outsmart me!) or if it is some other character flaw. I just know I never want one of my students to look back and think “Mrs. Bunner gave up on me.”

So, there it was, this rich harvest of berries. All because I looked at something from a different view. And I realized, this is one of the most important lessons I could take back to my classroom this fall. To step back from that student who seems to delight in usurping all my attempts to help them learn and look at him or her from a different perspective. What is there about this particular young person that I might not know or haven’t discovered about them? Have I really exhausted all avenues or is there a bounty somewhere I have yet to uncover? What is it about me or my style of teaching that might not mesh with the learning style of this student? Is my first hurdle developing a better relationship with this student before I can worry about learning?

This is not to say that I bear all of the responsibility for a student not learning. I realize at some point that these high schoolers are old enough to begin learning those lessons of life about taking responsibility for your own actions. But I also know that at times as the teacher it is easier to blame the student for not learning than it is to take that step back and take a second look. What bounty lies in store when I am willing to take that time and that energy? And isn’t every student in my class worthy of that second look? So many questions! Blueberry pie will never be the same…

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4 thoughts on “What Picking Blueberries Reminded Me About Students

  1. So funny. I had very similar thoughts, although I suspect I moved on from bushes must more quickly than you. Yesterday I got a ladder and picked from the top of the bushes. The berries there were amazing! I knew they would be, but I hadn’t used a ladder before because I thought the berries within reach were “good enough”.

    It was 94 sticky degrees when I picked yesterday and it would have been really easy to have gotten frustrated and stopped after about 5 minutes. But I just kept thinking “February, February” both because it’s much cooler then and that always seems to be the month I run out of berries. There are times when I’m teaching or planning that it’s easy to get stuck in the short-term (This lesson is a disaster. We are never going to get through this material. I am so not the best teacher for this student.) without stopping to refocus on the fact that this is just a season. There will be other lessons, material, and I am not the only teacher this student will have.

    • I like the analogy of it being just one season! I commend you for picking berries in this heat:) I just used up my last harvest and have been avoiding the process because of the heat. But you’ve reminded me that all good things are worth the effort, even if it is a little tough along the way.

  2. Theresa, I am so glad you are doing this blog….that way when I need a little ‘Bunner Boost’ I can just pretend you are right across campus.

    Thanks for the insight. I have been thinking about these same issues as I am getting ready to return to the classroom in a few weeks….excited and nervous as I will be teaching 10th grade for the first time.

    I am going to try something new in regards to my classroom management style and see how it goes. I will keep you posted.

    • Please let me know how things go! And always know you can call, email, write, tweet if you need a listening ear, advice, or just to vent:)

      Listen to the kids, they will be your greatest teacher. I know you’ll be great!

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