When we purchased our acreage six years ago, part of the land was tillable land, being in beans at that point. We aren’t farmers, so that was never doing to continue, and one part was where a barn and feed lot had been way back in the day, so it was pretty scrubby land anyway. As we grew more comfortable with our surroundings, we started asking the “what if we did” questions, and one of those questions focused on that scrubby land: what if we turned it into pasture, letting it sit, then fencing around it and putting something in?
Well, it sat a couple of years while we replaced the roof and septic system, adding a garage/shed where animals would say. We then finished out a small lot so we could run a few sheep out, who ate down all the weeds. Great, we were in business. Well, the real fencing was yet to be done. One side was finished all ready, part of the above mentioned lot, but the remaining three sides were long, longer then I’ve ever done before, so I was VERY nervous doing this, to the point of seriously considering a phone call to pay someone to do this. A huge fault of mine is that I hate failure to the point where it will paralize my ability to do things. Not something I’m proud of, something that I work on everyday, but something I know happens.
Well, once we got out and starting setting posts I started feeling better. Next we pulled and set one side wiring the fence in, nailing it to the wooden posts. Another side got done, this one shorter, and easier with our experiences dealing with the longer more difficult side. And finally today, my parents came up and helped us set the final side and put in a gate. When we let our two calves out into that pasture area for the first time, they ran and ran and ran, tails up, hooves kicking, just a ball to watch.
As we wound down, put away materials, a sense of “wow” set over me, but it also made me think about my own classroom. Unless I hear otherwise, I’m teaching all fifth grade all the time next year, something I’ve not done in 13 years. BUT, I have done it, and I was good at it. So my fencing showed me a few things that I will use this up coming year:
1) It’s always never as bad as you think – that darn fence gave me fits and it never should have. Sure there were a few choice adult words used, but it’s up, workable, and after a strand of barbed wire is put up, it will be really good to go. Next year, I all ready believe this will be my best year yet. I’m so excited because we’ll be 1:1 (20 students, 22 laptops), so many things will be different, but yet, more engaging to this class.
2) Failure happens, buck up, learn from it, and move on – I started cutting wire hangers way WAY too short, and they really didn’t work. So, I found some places they did work, but them a little longer, and moved on. I know next year, I have to do that. Trying something new will, no doubt, lead to some epic fails on my part. I need to document what the problem was so that I don’t repeat it, but I also need to document those things that go right too. We educators, myself included, can’t help but see “what needs to be fixed” when the wonderful things we do are right there in front of us.
3) When done, let them run a bit – Greased lightening, that’s all I could think of as those two calves ran to their hearts content. They were wiped out when I put them back into the barn a while ago and that’s perfect! With those students, they are going to to awesome things, and they need a chance to burn off their own energy! I love playing soccer with them, so I know that will happen, but not only that, they need to find those ways in the room to deal with energy as well. We’ll work on that together! 🙂
As I drove off tonight, that red gate was in my rear view mirror as if to say “job well done”. I know as I plan for this up coming year, there will be issues, small and large, but in the end, both my student and I will be so much better for the risks we’ll share together!