Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Hello from EEC Class of 2009!

Finally, it's time for us in the Education, Environment, and Community Graduate Class of 2009 to introduce ourselves. We are excited to get this blog going again, with an aim to give you lots of stories from the "front lines" of our experience, whether teaching in the field with kids or in other aspects of our crazy time here. My name is Kristen (or Kristen Coyote, as I tell SOP students), and I'll be joined by other grads, including Emma and Heidi, in sharing anecdotes, triumphs, and challenges during our year at IslandWood.

We have now been at IslandWood, on beautiful Bainbridge Island across the sound from Seattle, for about two months. We started out with some intensive training and coursework, which can be used as credits toward a master's degree in education at UW. Then we jumped right into hands-on learning in the field, starting by shadowing some returning alumni from the Class of 08, then team-teaching with our peers, and finally solo-teaching two weeks ago. There are 27 of us, and we're split into two cohorts, alternating teaching every other week. Right now, Cohort A is in the thick of it.

I'll share one thing with you before I sign off, just so you have an idea of what a long, exciting field day with the kids is like. Tonight I took Team Estuary, comprised of 8 students from Schmitz Park Elementary in West Seattle, out on a night hike. Night hikes are always a source of a bit of uncertainty, because you never know how 4th through 6th graders will react to being pushed out of their comfort zone and lead into the woods in the deep dark of the night. My group was striving for reaching Mac's Pond by only the light of the stars (no moon out tonight), but it required courage and teamwork from the kids to allow themselves to trust in me, their leader, to show them a cool experience. And parts of the trail got reallly dark, but we pressed on. When we reached the cool openness of the pond, a big sky of stars opened up before us and we had enough light to feel comfortable again. We laid on the pond dam looking up, and watched--in silence--the twinkling expanse above. I marveled at the hushed wonder that they showed, even though I had thought before that they may be too rambunctious or nervous to relax and appreciate it. We didn't have time for much else after that, but we walked in a trust walk all the way back to campus with lighter hearts and greater trust. We reached the bright lights of campus and everyone giggled with relief and excitement, knowing that everything did turn out OK, and it was actually kind of cool and perfectly fine to feel scared for just a little bit.

So anyway, welcome to our experience! We'll be back again soon with plenty more to tell.

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