Sunday, May 30, 2010

We've Come A Long Way: We Have A Long Way To Go

If you've been reading here for awhile, it won't surprise you to learn that when I reflect on this amazing school year, the cherry on top has been the creation of our new outdoor classroom, our all-hands-on deck, community-wide effort to transformation our small, urban courtyard, and through that our curriculum and our community. It was the effort as much as the finished product that made this year special.

One of the important characteristics of this space, for me, is that it not remain static, but rather evolve based upon the interests and talents of not just the children, but of our whole community. I expect to always view our outdoor space as a work in progress. In that regard, I'm trying to think of it like I would a science experiment or a piece of collaborative art, it will change a little everyday, sometimes by design, but mostly through happy, unpredictable accidents. It will be what we need it to be for a time, but only for a time, and then become something else. I wonder if the children who graduate this year will even recognize the space when they return to play with us a year from now. I kind of hope they don't. That will mean that the children who have come after them have made it their own.

This is where we played last fall:

This is how we transformed it this winter:

And this is where we were playing on the last day of school this spring:

I'm going to take it as an omen that this plant, which has always been in our garden, but has never shown us its flowers, bloomed for us this spring:

We've come a long way: we have a long way to go.

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pink and green mama MaryLea said...

I planted that plant for the first time at the end of last season and we came home from the beach last weekend and it's taller than my kids! It's called an "Early Red Hot Poker" The girls think it looks like a pineapple.

Love the outdoor classroom - we're trying to add an outdoor painting space, an outdoor loom, and a water wall to our backyard this summer! : )

Scott said...

"Always a work in progress" That's how I try to view my classroom, too. Adjusting and trying new things. Moving furniture around or moving it out. Bringing things in and using them in different ways.

Your outdoor space is an inspiration - one that I'm looking at impacting what I do in days ahead. Thanks!

Play for Life said...

Wowee Tom what a wonderful transformation! I hadn't realized just how much your outdoor area had changed until I saw all the photos here in one post. You guys should feel so proud of yourselves. Your community spirit is really something. I'll be watching with much interest to see what you do next.
Donna :) :)

Teacher Tom said...

@P&G Mama . . . Thanks for the info. That's a cool name! We think the flowers look like giant candy corn.

Juliet Robertson said...

I think all of you should be VERY proud of your achievements. What's even better is that the place is looking as if children PLAY there! A good mark of an outdoor play area is whether it is constantly changing as much as the indoor area.