Tuesday, December 13, 2011

sewing in school

I love working with children. In fact, I knew I wanted to be a teacher at the ripe old age of seven.  But my sole wish is that I somehow find a way to balance the 9 to 5 (or should I say, 7 to 6) with my intense desire to work on creative projects at home.  By the time I drag myself in from school in the evening, all I want are my flannel pjs and a comfy place to rest my head.  I'm too exhausted to think, let alone create.

I loved attending school as a child.  Many of my teachers were inspiring and creative, and for that reason every day was an adventure.  I sometimes wonder if I was lucky, or if they simply had more freedom back then...freedom to teach in their own way, to let their personalities shine through, to break the rules during instruction when it meant being effective and engaging.  Cool projects and creative activities were the norm.  I made many a diorama, terrariums in 2-liter pop bottles, hanging mobiles out of wire hangers, paper mache globes, and clay pots.

So how is today's classroom different than I remember?

In many ways the profession is becoming more robotic.  While I completely agree that standards are important and even needed to make sure everyone is staying on track, I do not feel it necessary that we all do our jobs in the same way.  We are often told how to teach, what to write on the board every day, how to assess (bubble sheets, bubble sheets and more bubble sheets!) "effectively."  Many of our meetings are now spent analyzing test data, which is dry and dull.  As a result, there are no more terrariums and dioramas.  Teachers no longer have time to plan effective lessons.  Creativity suffers.

But what do I know, right?  I only have thirteen years in the classroom.  Apparently there are others out there...most of whom have never stood in front of thirty six-year olds, who tell the rest of us how to deliver it in the "most effective" way.  

So why am I rambling on about this in a blog about my fabric obsession?

I am fortunate to have an incredible, creative bunch of students in my class this year.  So I decided to break the rules a little...to allow them more opportunities to build, explore, create.  They're making toothpick bridges and paper cars with Lifesaver wheels in science.  And recently I purchased Sewing School, which is written by two teachers.  This book has a selection of sewing projects for children to complete, and it has been a wonderful resource.

Today the kids had the option to be "creatively productive" at the end of the day.  Some made "get well" cards for a fellow student, others bound toothpicks with Elmer's, and many elected to work with needles, thread and fabric scraps.  It was so rewarding for me to see their excitement at the opportunity to be creative, and they deserved that brief opportunity to break the rules.

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