Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Today, I'd like to share some very introspective musings with you.
Lately, I've been engaging in a lot of self reflection. I'm at a point in my life that I'm questioning what I'm doing and why, exactly, I'm doing "it". The need for reflection arose due to a feeling I had last fall, that intensified during this past spring, of being over committed and thus, over whelmed by the volunteer activities I had taken on.
So, without getting into too many details, let's just say that I was running two separate groups for our school district. One such assemblage was a new advocacy group for the parents/families of our district's talented and gifted students. This was a group I had started the previous year, based on a perceived need that arose from other parents asking me what was going on with TAG education at various levels in our district. The group met once a month, however a lot of background information needed to be gathered as well as writing mission and vision statements, setting forth goals, and meeting with various district and building administrators. Needless to say, it has been a difficult and stressful road mostly because the topic of giftedness is, in general, one that people, even educators (or maybe, especially educators) are reluctant to discuss. All children are gifts, not all children are gifted. There is a difference. However, this difference is not recognized universally and can be polarizing.
The second group I led is near and dear to my heart. Nine years ago this fall, I started an elementary, after school garden club. It was an idea that came to me so I could easily bank volunteer hours. The hours were necessary to hold my Master Gardener Certification in good standing. I had the support of the principal and a vision. Bear in mind this idea was well before the current popularity existed for environmental education and outdoor classrooms. It seems everyone has jumped on this band wagon that no one cared about or barely existed 10 short years ago. Over the course of the last eight years, I have developed my own curriculum and have been able to attract an average of 30 students per year to an elective educational activity. Wow! Again, I saw a need...one that I still believe exists to develop engaging community activities for our youth. I strongly believe that not all learning takes place in a classroom. I have seen some of my garden club students blossom with confidence and a sense of pride in accomplishing something good, like our school based butterfly garden, for the entire community. I've also witnessed the empowerment that knowledge enables some children to be able to say, "I know that, because I learned it in garden club". Yes, Evergreen Garden Club was a good thing.
In addition to holding monthly meetings for both of these groups, I spent time holding a book club for first graders, a writing circle for third graders, reading with forth graders, and working on language arts with 6th graders, all on a weekly basis. Lastly, I did what I could to support our local high school band.
Whew, even in writing this, I feel a sense of being overwhelmed. So, it should be no surprise that when August rolled around and I began to "organize" for these two groups, I started feeling stressed. I knew I needed to make a change. On the advice of some friends, I sat down and made a list of what I was doing. To quote one of those friends, I needed to decide, what drained my batteries (so to speak) and what recharged them. I was to keep what recharged my personal batteries and let the draining activities go. If you knew me, you'd realize this was so much easier said than done.
I've always been a person with a strong sense of obligation and loyalty. How do you stop something you feel committed to? Well, let me tell you, it is hard! I saw a need for both of the groups I started, I saw a need for the other activities as well. All of the activities with the exception of the fourth grade reading and sixth grade language arts classroom volunteer duties, were activities solely being conducted by me. They were developed by seeing a need, speaking to the involved teacher or administrator, being organized, and starting the groups.
So, what has happened you ask? What have I decided? Well, the outcome is different than I even imagined. I hope you'll stop back later this week to see what is going to keep by batteries charged! I'll give you a hint; I've realized that I'm good at seeing what is needed and addressing those needs. The question is what is needed now? For me? For our community? I hope you'll stop back to find out!
Have a great day and thanks for stopping by!