Hear From Teachers
[A Story from the Classroom]
Janice Haines & the Garlic Mustard Busters
Belfountain Public School
How do you empower a junior student? You ask them if they would like to create a festival and make all of the decisions for the event. In the end, this included coming up with a slogan and a logo design, applying for grant money and formulating a budget ,working and meeting with community members, advertising, etc. etc. These students decided that they wanted to help raise awareness about an invasive species in the community and the result was the 1st
Annual Garlic Mustard Festival in Caledon. Working closely with the Belfountain Community Organization and the Credit Valley Conservation Authority, the students were able to share ideas and receive input. They spent two periods every week working on the project with me as their facilitator. I functioned as a resource to help them think about the things that needed to be accomplished. Every time we got together we reflected on anything that happened, took votes if necessary and decided on what we needed to work on that day. Most teachers would cringe if I said this out loud but you have to relinquish control and allow it to be a very organic process. After the festival was over and we had pulled 1200 lbs of Garlic Mustard, given out prizes created by a local artist, eaten local foods from the vendors, played games and listened to a local musician the students thought they could sit back and relax. After all, it was over, right? Not quite ...
What is the Role of the Teacher?
(Diagram in Natural Curiosity, p. 27)
The role of the teacher in the inquiry-centred classroom is to guide and facilitate student learning, encouraging students to share ideas and theories and providing opportunities for them to experiment, research, and draw conclusions. There are moments where teacher-directed instruction is needed to enrich the learning experience, as well as times when students are designing their own learning - the teacher's role is flexible and supportive. (Natural Curiosity, p. 27)