I recently read Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer with a book club of people across Canada. We were amazed by the numerous messages throughout the book. The author is a Potawatomi woman and mother as well as a botanist. She encourages readers to use two-eyed seeing, meaning to see the world through an Indigenous lens as well as a scientific one.

This leads me to thinking about the medicine wheel and the teachings of the sunrise, the East, the beginning of life and the season of spring. Although I am Irish-Canadian, these teachings resonate with me more than the idea of a new year in January. The natural world is bustling with energy as buds burst into leaves and blossoms form on flowers. Birds are singing out and the bunnies are appearing in my neighbourhood. 

This energy transfers into our classrooms as well and we may need to re-establish routines that change as wet weather brings muddy shoes and cool frosty mornings bring layers of sweaters and jackets one day and then t-shirt weather the next. Spring is a natural time for all of us to review the goals we wish to reach before the end of the school year.

Personally, I am building an understanding of the theme of reciprocity from Braiding Sweetgrass. Kimmerer explains it as “Nature gives us so much; the only thing one can do in the face of such profound generosity is to turn around and do the same.”

My choices at the grocery store impact the planet’s health as well as my own. I know I cannot always buy organic or local food but I’m doing it more often than I was. I’m also adding native pollinator plants to my garden to help the ecosystem where I live. It’s a start.

Professionally, I’m working on how to develop rapport with students quickly as an occasional teacher. I enter their classroom community as a guest teacher hoping they will feel safe and respected. Some strategies I’ve adopted include quickly learning their names, using a seating plan, giving the safety talk and interspersing mindfulness activities throughout the day.

If you are reviewing your goals this spring, I encourage you to be gentle with yourself. Be realistic about what can be achieved in the next two months. 

One suggestion for student goal setting is to include daily goal setting in your morning meeting time and take time to reflect on previous goals. A wonderful picture book to illustrate this point is The Bad Seed by Jori John. One year I had a student identify with the main character and then he set goals for self-improvement. It was very inspiring to see him do the work needed to make positive changes in his life.

Whatever happens with you this spring, I hope you enjoy this incredible season of renewal!

Early Spring Trillium



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