Sunday, February 22, 2015

Dream Big

Fish in Trees
Helping Children Find Their Genius

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

-Albert Einstein

As a public school educator, it's become increasingly obvious that there is something WRONG with education.  It's NOT that teachers are bad.  It's not that they are lazy and overpaid, and don't want to do their jobs.   It is that teaching is no longer teacher driven and child centered.  What we teach and how we teach it is dictated to us as we scramble to push children through the system.  In our efforts to leave no child behind we are mandated to teach to tests, and force every child into the same sized education goals at the same pace and ignore the developmental stages that every child reaches at different times.  I don't want to do this anymore.  I don't think I CAN do this anymore.  It's heartbreakingly difficult to see children compare themselves to one another, to not be proud of where they are in their educational journey, and to think they've failed before they've even truly gotten started.  

I once held a classroom discussion about what we wanted to be when we grew up.  A bright eyed young girl raised her hand and eagerly announced she wanted to be a unicorn.  Amidst the laughs and guffaws of her classmates, tears welled up in her eyes until I told her and the rest of the class that unicorns are the BEST readers in the whole world, so if she wanted to be a unicorn we better get started on learning how to read.  The other kids thought I had lost my mind, my partner in crime (Leslie Thompson) smiled, and the joy once again returned to my young student's face as I validated her dream.  I want to help more children reach their dreams, and to do that I feel like I need to start my own business where I help children discover the world around them in a developmentally appropriate way, through multiple intelligences, and through exploration and play.  For the record, once she started reading (and she did) she changed her mind and wanted to be a teacher.  

Here's my biggest road block to reaching my dream:  FUNDING.  As a teacher with a large family, and an even larger student loan debt, not to mention credit cards, I'm not what the banks will consider a good credit risk.  Especially if I leave my "real" job to chase my dream.  I am terrified of risking my  family's financial security.  Truthfully, calling it security might be stretching it a bit, while we make what appears to be great money on paper, five children at home, one out of the home, bills, and food eat up every cent of what comes in and then some.  I have been inspired by the story of St. Jude's Children's Hospital, and it's humble beginnings and I am feeling called to place my trust in God and listen to the whisper that keeps growing louder with every day.  My time to act upon the ideas placed in my heart is coming soon.  I know that if I can bring my learning center to fruition I can make it successful.

I believe play is the work of the child and would plan days that involve multi sensory experiences, field trips, exploration, cooking, art, drama, dance, imagination, and time to just be a child.  I want to give my future students the opportunity to explore the world around them as they see fit.  I want to let their interests and curiosities drive the direction of our days and to help every child find out what they like, what they love, and to appreciate how much the world has to offer.  I am passionate about learning and believe that it can happen though a combination of all of these experiences.  Learning does not occur after just one lesson, it takes multiple exposures through a variety of mediums to find the switch to the proverbial light bulb.  After 17 years as a public educator I am certain that I can help make those connections become a reality for every child that I work with.  I wouldn't promise a time frame for the light bulb to be illuminated, but I would promise to be compassionate, considerate, and dedicated.  I would promise to make children love learning, believe in their abilities, and chase their dreams.

Here is MY dream, I want to create a learning center called Fish in Trees that is welcoming, accepting, and open to ALL children.  I want space for the children to play, to plant a garden, tend to some some animals, (I'm thinking chickens, rabbits, goats, etc.  (If I'm dreaming dream big right?)  I would help facilitate my children's learning by creating thematic learning opportunities that help children discover not only who they are, but who they want to be.  Exposing children to as many life experiences as possible, from an early age would be a driving force in my dream center.  I'd open Fish in Trees to children from ages infancy on up to preschool age to start, and hopefully expand to before and after care for older children.  I'd also quickly hire back my good pal Leslie Thompson to be my right hand lady again, and I'd try to rope in Debra Stevens and a host of other pals who are adept at working with children and offering therapies to children with special needs.  In my dream world Fish in Trees would be a place where parents would drop their child off with confidence knowing that their social, emotional, and academic needs would embraced, accepted, and celebrated.

Here's my photo list of dreams for those who are visual learners….

I'd love to get this house to turn into Fish in Trees… it's in a great location and looks like it's in move in condition!

I also need a giant van for field trips

I think I could figure out the rest.  I've got tons of stuff to create my dream learning center! 

I'm looking for ways to make Fish in Trees happen.  If you can help me out, or suggest an avenue to get my dream funded, please let me know.  Or feel free to forward my blog to Ellen Degeneres.  That lady is always making dreams come true!  I'm also not opposed to making my dream happen in Arlington Iowa, just in case Chris Soules happens upon this blog post.

God is good.  All the time.

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