Why Educators Need to Dispel the 'Grass Is Always Greener' Mentality
This week's post is a guest blog from veteran teacher Ryan Wallace, a student in the Mount Holyoke College Master of Arts in Teacher Leadership program.
A few weeks ago I realized that it was one of the last days I'd be able to mow my lawn, midmorning, on a weekday. So goes the summer of a teacher. As I rolled my mower back into my shed, I took pride in my neat parallel lines running the course of my patchwork swath of green, neon green, and brown grass. Ah, summer...
It make me think about a comment I made earlier this summer while sitting down to dinner with my grad school cohort. In reply to a question about what I learned when I was working as a data analysis coach for RI schools, I said, "the grass isn't greener, it's just different shades of brown."
Perhaps there was a twinge of cynicism in there, but the more I think, reflect, and move to push my professional self to my full potential, I have realized that brown grass isn't a bad thing.
As any homeowner can tell you, brown grass isn't dead grass (most of the time). It's grass that has chosen to lose its plush lustrous green to protect itself. Under that layer of thatch is a living thing that needs to be coaxed back to health, but it is living, and it is capable of bouncing back; water, fertilizer, changing the cutting height, and time will all allow for that grass to make it's slow recuperation back to green and thriving.
Can't we view schools in the same light? My building, like my lawn, is "in transition." At times I feel as if it's one drought away from moving past brown to scorched. There are however bright spots. I see tufts of green that given the right conditions can spread. I also see, behind closed classroom doors, brown grass holding on to its last living roots.
The lawn that is my school needs some help. We want the green lawn, but we fall victim to the quick fixes; throw down some seed, a quick watering, pull a weed or two. These may work, they may not; as experience has shown me, most of the time it doesn't change a thing (that goes for my actual lawn as well).
This is why we need to conduct a soil test of sorts. Lets figure out what we need, instead of just over watering, or over fertilizing, or letting the green grass fend for itself. Check the soil, go organic, leave a few weeds for color, tell the neighbor to put a leash on their dog, but most of all, give it some time for those remedies to work. Assess what we need and give it time so we can bring the whole lawn back into one that's fun to run through barefoot.
Even then... you still have to keep up with its needs. The greenest lawn is always one step away from losing it's luster.
Ryan Wallace (@rpwallace) is a loving husband and father of two boys (8 and 4), a teacher with 15 years experience teaching high school English at William E. Tolman High School in Pawtucket, RI, an alumnus of The Catholic University of America, a graduate student at Mt. Holyoke College, and a homeowner with a patchwork lawn full of dandelions.
Check out Ryan's blog, Insignificant Musings, at https://ryanpeterwallace.wordpress.com/2016/09/13/from-kentucky-blue-to-fescue-why-educators-need-to-dispel-the-grass-is-always-greener-mentality/?fb_action_ids=10154093048096919&fb_action_types=news.publishes.
Photo courtesy of Luis Deliz.