The adult role in a self-directed learning environment (as mentioned two weeks ago) is totally different from traditional or even progressive school settings. This is one of the main reasons I don't own (accept) the title "teacher." On the other hand, I know other colleagues in the Liberated Learner Network who happily embrace it - therefore, this is definitely a personal preference.
Just plain Maria is fine - but sometimes, they call me mom or, more recently, "grandma!" (What??? I mean - I am old enough to be their grandparent - but OUCH!)
By spending my days listening closely to their stories and (sometimes) non-verbal cues, I provide the resources they need to pursue their interests and aspirations. Together, we create a safe, often loud and chaotic, richly diverse environment filled with funny, serious, creative, curious, fiercely independent, playful, shy, and colorful personalities - all excited about learning.
I am a facilitator - a direct support person - the one adult they know for a fact will always have their back. They know I trust them unequivocally to make the choices best for them, and they trust me - to be their sounding board, guide, and champion.
For example, this year, we have one teen - who suffers from severe anxiety to the point that they are (mostly) mute and spend their days in the office away from the other kids - reading and petting Digby. In the beginning, this situation made me feel really uncomfortable. I felt ineffectual in my inability to help. Then, a few weeks ago, I received a note from their mom thanking me for providing that safe space for her child, and she didn't know what they would do if it wasn't for DRC.
Now, I engage with them while I work on projects and admin tasks by chatting occasionally without anticipating a response - simply letting them be without judgment or external expectations. It is what they need - at this moment.
On Friday, I asked this teen if they would like to draw Halloween scenes on some of the treat bags we are handing out at the Jamboree next week. At the end of the day, they handed me two bags with drawings worthy of framing and hanging in a gallery. Holy Moly! This kid is talented! They beamed when I told them just that.
On my way home, I stopped at the SLU Brewer Bookstore to purchase a sketchpad, a good quality drawing pencil, and a kneadable eraser - that I will present to them on Monday. I can't wait to see the beauty they produce with those simple tools.
Oftentimes, we have absolutely no idea what impact we have on the young people we spend our days with. I can only hope they see (understand) their potential as clearly as I do.
And I guess at the end of the day - that defines my role best - trusting, providing the spark of hope and optimism, and sitting back and watching the magic happen before my eyes.
Halloween Jamboree - Oct. 28th - 12 - 6 at the Canton VFW - Gouverneur St.
Join DRC Staff, Board, & Families for amazing music featuring local legends: Ron, Josh & Valerie Kirkpatrick, George Dodds, Carter Houk, Don Woodcock, and Jay Seymour, as well as many musical friends including DRC's Chris Raymo and his son.
Listen to the music while your kids have a blast in the Halloween Fun Zone with arts & crafts, games, toys, face painting & treat bags for the first 75 kids to arrive. Costumes are welcome (for all ages)!
This is a fundraising event for Deep Root Center with donation at the door, food concession, bake sale, silent auction, craft fair featuring the DRC Etsy Shop Creators, 50/50 Raffle, & DRC Swag. Contact maria@deeprootcenter for more info.
There will be a jam session and opportunity for Karaoke between 6-9.
Please share this event widely! Hope to see you there!
Photos from a busy week at both Centers!
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