>The Inspiring World

>When I recently spoke at the Realms charter middle school in Bend Oregon, I had no expectation that my little talk would inspire As I entered the building modern yet simple building that was a sublet of the local public middle school, I noticed how much seemed to brimming from the rooms. There was quiet activity in every space. Drawings and projects posted on most walls. The energy flowed out of rooms with ease. These kids were learning.

As an experiential teacher myself for corporations and communities, I notice when real learning is happening. I see people’s minds engage in the subject and ideas fly then stick.

I used this presentation  on that day. “Inspiring Sustainability” was the title of the talk. Having taught for 15 years, I knew I could come up with something interesting and interactive for the kids, but the ultimate effectiveness can still vary. I was a little freaked out about being in front of them. Kids are notorious unforgiving if they sense any fear. Like a pack of wild animals, they can circle and pounce.

The last time I had taught middle school was as part of an after-school program in Brooklyn eight years ago. It is true that this audience in Bend might be a little more forgiving than a set of New York City students who were required to be in my class because of their remedial needs. I had no idea what was going to happen.

Today I received an email from their teacher. She forwarded a computer game that one of the students has created from scratch. This was based on their 2 hour brainstorming process. I am feeling so proud of this kid right now. As I look at this example I see how everyone can make a choice to discover their passion and connect it to sustainability.

I have to thank their team Jamison who leads her students toward their interests with gentle encouragement. I saw her skill during my 2 hours with her class. She jumped right into the group activity. She encouraged each person in her group of students to keep exploring how their ideas might be made into real life things. I was in awe of her ability to be in the moment like a kid herself, not trying to teach. She just watched and asked questions of the kids. Or clarified things with me. Her curiosity was contagious for the 7th and 8th graders in her small group.

As a teacher, we learn so much from watching how other teacher’s work. For anyone who has taught middle school knows this can be a tough time. I admire this school – it’s passionate students and devoted teachers. Keep on greening!

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