Pumpkin Spice Lattes are back on Starbuck’s coffee menu. As a coffee purist, I have surprised myself at how much I enjoy these “liquid autumn” beverages, as my friend calls them. Perhaps it’s more than the flavored coffee that I’ve come to love; perhaps it is all that they have come to represent.
A new school year is underway, and by these weeks in mid-September, I have come to know more than 80 new students with whom I will have the privilege to learn over the next nine months. We are settling in together with new expectations, programs, and lessons. In our school, sixth grade is the first year that students experience learning with netbooks at their fingertips all day, and the immediate research is exciting. Validity, reliability, and responsibility are words that are quite familiar to them already. Together we’re maneuvering a new online math program, ALEKS, and we’re discovering all that it has to offer in terms of individualizing math education. With our first sixth grade writing assignments, the challenge of composing a quality thesis statement has brought us some 1:1 bonding time during writing workshops. We’re reading for pleasure and for purpose, responding with an appropriate degree of “textual evidence,” as emphasized by the language arts common core standards.
As we read some current events during our non-fiction Friday session this week, the 10th anniversary of the attack on our country came up in the discussion that ensued. One student commented, “Oh, yeah, my mom told me that story.” It occurred to me just then that, to these 11-year-olds, 9-11 is now his”story”, and it is incumbent upon all of us to help them understand how history truly shapes our nation and ourselves.
Teaching is not, nor can it be, a one-man or –woman job, so while students may call me their teacher, I know that I am but one of many teachers in their young lives. It takes the right combination of perspectives and experiences to shape young minds. If done well, it becomes a perfect blend. Maybe that’s another reason why a long-time coffee purist has come to love the added flavors of a Pumpkin Spice Latte.
Grande – Non-fat – No whipped cream – Please.