I’m pretty sure that most of my readers are homeschool moms, or have found me from searching nature studies and homeschooling. So if I started off this article with –
There is an amazing opportunity in my community and I’ve been privileged by being asked to take part. It is a small co-op school that has formed on a property two miles inland, in the foothills, in a barn that was re-built to hold a learning center, yet keeping the rustic cabin in the woods charm with an open fireplace to warm our morning sing time. The play area is kept as naturally as possible, with a class once per week focusing on the ecosystems of the property and how to maintain usage and natural flow of the small forest and fields surrounding the property. Boots are required at play time as there is always an adventure at the creek and in the mud. A playground that looks like it dropped out of the 1960’s sits in an open space to the east calling the children to swing higher, jump further and spin faster on the merry go round. This idyllic creekside setting draws families and children, luring them to want to learn here.
My role will be to lead the 4th – 6th grade children through their learning this year. I’ll be following the set three year themed cycle which flows through Oceanography, Geology, and Astronomy this year with a US Geography, Culture and People history focus. I’ve already had fun planning out our adventures using the Story of Science by Joy Hakim and The Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock. We will also explore a dozen lessons centered around four projects learning about the Cascade Head are. For those of you who have been following my blog – I’m high fiving with you. This is a perfect match for me!
I’ll get to teach math using Singapore / base ten / math centers / games, etc. I’d love to try to convince them to switch to Math U See – but it seems like a lost cause and I still get to use the exact same style with Singapore. I’m sure my verbal lessons will have a Mr. Demme feel to them. They have about 427 sets of Cuisenaire Rods the building, seriously, that’s probably a low estimate. I get to go to a Math Seminar this month to learn how to effectively teach 4th – 6th grade singapore style math, and I’m super stoked.
I’m using most of our own curriculum for Writing and Reading. The school has several sets of Spaulding Phonogram Cards, and has the Spaulding Writing Road to Reading teacher instruction manuals. I’ve been going over my Wanda Sanseri materials for Teaching Reading at Home, the Wise Guide, and Spell to Write and Read. I won’t be able to really start lesson planning until I see where the kids are with their phonetic awareness.
I’ll be using all of my skills learned from the Teaching Writing with Structure and Style from IEW. I may go through the Structured Writing Intensive with the kiddos, depending on time. The English portion of the class is relatively short. However, we both know that a lot of this can be brought into the history and science portions of the day as we write about what we are learning. Notebooking will be key, and the children will have a notebook for each topic.
There will be special teachers each week for Spanish, Music, Art, Art Theory, Gardens, Library and Ukulele. I’ll still try to find time to do a Harmony Fine Art lesson at least once a week with the kids for Music and Art. We’ll also try to participate in as many Outdoor Hour Challenges as we can fit with our other nature studies. I’ll be using the OHC materials for many of them.
I’m super stoked. I wrote about being the K-1 teacher for part time, but circumstances changed, and I’m equally stoked to step into the 4-6 class.
From a homeschooler point of view – this is a natural extension to what I’ve been doing the last 15 years. Finding the delight driven projects that fit into a theme that will spark a joy of learning and fuel a curiosity to encourage a child to seek out their interests independently, and gain knowledge, and use experience to mold it into wisdom and personal practice. There are around 10 students in my class. I know and love them all from my work at the school the past year.
To those in town, I keep getting the weirdest comments. I just stare at them. Blink. Blink. Oh – You get to be a teacher! That sounds like fun! Do you think you’ll be able to do it? How do you have the experience to be a teacher? Do you think you’ll be able to teach different grades at the same time? Blink. Blink. Um. Yep. I’ve sort of been doing it for years.
From the homeschoolers – they seem excited that I’ll now be paid for what I’ve done for free, but they still equate a paid learning center to a school. Now, I’ll be a school teacher, instead of a homeschooler. I get it. But seriously, this learning center runs like a large homeschool co-op. I’ve spent way to many hours on Pinterest searching out the different grade ideas, and they really don’t work for this setting. They are written to 30 kids in one room all the same age. I have 3 levels of ages within 10 kids, with all different learning skill levels. I think it would be hard for a public school trained teacher to step into this situation.
But – I’ve been made for this moment.
I still have Jon at home. We’ve given him a few options of what he could do this next year, and he has chosen to stay home. His pa is having a few surgeries, so we’ll trade places with working and stay at home parent. However, Jon can come to work with me any day he likes, I’d especially like him to come on the Spanish/Art/Music day. Ha. He can do his work on a computer at the school and interact with the kids. He’s not too keen on it, but he can, if the winter months linger on with long stretches of storms and no surf.
So that’s what has started my identity switch. I am now away from home, miles from civilization, away from social media, cell coverage, and local news. I was at Summer Camp there during the last three weeks of horrific news. I’d come home to be bewildered by my FB newsfeed. I had no desire to stay on top of it all. I felt blessed to not know. Part of my contract is to agree to no social media during the day, or computers for personal use, outside of a quick check on a lunch break. I took the data plan off of my phone for the month of July to help break my habit of scrolling. I’ve used 148 mbs of data this month. I feel free.
So – Although I’m still a teacher, and still at homeschooeler to one, I’ll no longer be a Product Promoter / Reviewer / Social Media person. My FB feed will just be when I want to check in and share something. My Instagram has slowed down, but I’m still sharing a bit there. Where I’ve been hanging out is Google+ and Pinterest. Good Gravy the Pinterest Addiction is strong. Trying to find a year’s worth of fun math games and writing prompts and nature experiments – is a joy – and a but of an addiction . . help . . .me. . . .
I’m sure, as I feel led, I’ll share about my journey with the 4th-6th graders, protecting their identity, but writing about my experiences.
I’ll share about the crazy new battle to balance working away from home all day, chores, menus, grocery shopping, turning ingredients into meals, and still being a wife and momma.
I might write a bit more about the balance of being a wife, and a caregiver to a disabled husband. I haven’t shared a lot of that, as it is private, and could effect employment for my husband, but if he does become a full time stay at home dad, I’ll share that journey. Always feel free to email or private message me on FB if you ever want to talk about it.
My oldest son is on another new weird learning path through the school and college, I’m sure I’ll write about his crazy way to get his degree.
And paddling, fishing, gardening, cooking, surfing, nature walks, fun plants, etc – I might go back to just writing about me. Pebblekeeper. Angie. Sharing Me.