Saturday, September 29, 2007

classroom expectations and hopes

I expect the world from my students and myself each and everyday. I live with our failures to meet these expectations because my hopes remain. Last night at parents night, I tell those who enter my classroom about my hopes. Those parents, who don't venture in to what one student calls the Stratz Lair, have to be satisfied with the view from the sidewalk outside my window. Maybe they hear the jazz piano playing of Marian McPartland.

I see some linger looking at the aloes. Maybe they hear hope in my voice.

Early on I speak of hopes for a young man to fight off the OCD intensified fears which slows him down so much. My desire is for him to see that jumping into something, even if it turns out terribly, is a better life than being stuck in front of a blank physics assignment.

But most of the evening is spent with parents whose children attend one of my horticulture classes. I speak of the year they will experience, the career ed goals I will focus on, and I also answer a question expressed by one mother, "Is this the best place for my nearly-old-enough-to-graduate son to be?" I don't know for sure, so I say something like this.....

I would love for all of my students to develop the passion, skill, talent, strength, and luck to graduate into a job working with plants. But I would also be well pleased with them gardening at home, caring for an aloe in a sunny kitchen window, cooking with fresh peppers, or being stopped while walking by a patch of globe amaranths and say, 'how beautiful, I grew them once.' I hope that in experiencing horticulture they will learn that with compassion, life can flourish. By the end I have convinced myself and a parent or two that horticulture is far from a waste of time.

The parents leave. I turn off the jazz, say goodnight to some friends as we head to our cars, and head home.


  1. You have me wondering, Wayne, what age your students are and whether you're employed by a school or ? The whole idea of utilizing horticulture as directional education sounds interesting to me, but I'm not so sure it would work in my circumstances. The first year I entered into this, though, the teacher weekly brought a different herb into the class and introduced the kids to the smell of the plant.....

  2. Jim-- I am at a state approved private school. Because all our students are in special education, I work with students up to the age of 21. Mostly 16-21, however, in the summer I do work with the younger folk. In my horticulture classes, I have students who are able to handle physics, and I have students who test at the 2nd grade reading level. my class is one of the few places that the different programs come together. scents are great-- I have students convinced that lavender soothes their angst, and the other day I had a student in some kind of gleeful ecstasy over the scent of anise hyssop. this job is a blessing..... off to roast veggies.

  3. I enjoyed this post as well. I battle OCD fears every day of my life. I admire you for working with those that God has entrusted you with. I have been an overcomer, and I know that you will see good results too.

  4. Monty-- I know through loved ones who have an OCD wired brain, how hard you have worked. congrats on overcoming!


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