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April 12, 2022

The Connection Between Teaching and Gardening

In my first years of teaching, I believed I could never do enough to support my students. I wanted spectacular outcomes for every single 6th grader on my roster. I struggled to “achieve” as a teacher, and in doing so, I unknowingly put a lot of pressure on my students and myself.

As time went on and I became a struggling juggler of parenting and teaching, the true nature of my profession was revealed: every day I teach, I’m planting seeds for growth and opportunity. And I quickly realized: that, by itself, is a big deal! From numbers to letters along with everything in between and beyond – there is so much to learn, and it all grows day by day, concept by concept, skill by skill.

When we plant the seeds of learning, we’re simply and profoundly setting up the possibility for new knowledge and skills to grow. Couldn’t we then consider ourselves gardeners creating a vision and a plan, digging in the dirt, planting seeds, pulling weeds when they crop up, and cheering on both the rain and sunshine?

Sir Ken Robinson, education and creativity expert, compares teachers to gardeners. Watch and listen to his beautiful insight – it’s a quick two-minute video worth your teacher time!

American educator and author, John Holt, said it this way: “We can think of ourselves not as teachers, but as gardeners. A gardener does not ‘grow’ flowers; he tries to give them what he thinks they need and they grow by themselves.” Doesn’t that sound like a breath of “fresh air” amidst the frenzy of your daily instruction?

There’s no need to create a new analogy for teaching and gardening. I simply want to re-plant this idea into your educator mind. If you can focus on the smallest of steps and cultivate patience for student growth, teaching and learning success will bloom right before your eyes. As you reflect on your challenges and accomplishments – give yourself a pat on the back for all the gardening you do!

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