After Memorial Day, Jan and I decided to get a little rest and relaxation in beautiful Rocky Mountain National Park, just an hour from our front door. Because the snow melt is filling the rivers and streams, everything is in bloom, including the groves of Aspen trees which are green now and will turn a brilliant gold in the fall. The story of the Aspen is one that has always fascinated me due to the fact that a grove or colony of Aspen, acres wide, comes from one seedling. The colony shares a common root system and, while individual trees can live to be 150 years old, a grove of Aspen in Utah is estimated to be 80,000 years old! As trees age and die off, saplings are constantly replacing them. Young saplings do best in direct sunlight which means that they typically burst through the soil slightly away from the shade of other Aspen, ensuring that the grove will expand and continue to grow.
The story of the Aspen is a wonderful metaphor for a community, and a school which forms a community in its own right. While speaking with a small group of teachers a few days ago about our excitement for the Time To Teach! strategy, they lamented the fact that their school currently had a hodgepodge of classroom management styles in place and lacked a common vision to find greater consistency. Some teachers were apparently implementing certain aspects of Time To Teach!, but were not using it with its intended fidelity and were only experiencing limited success. Other teachers were not aware of Time To Teach! or any other classroom management system and appeared to be using whatever bits and pieces they had accumulated over the years. To apply the metaphor of the Aspen, the members of this teaching community lack a common root system, one which is capable of nurturing new growth and the formation of strong teachers, teaching to behavioral expectations, assisting students to become more accountable for their own choices, minimizing classroom disruptions and raising academic performance. After sharing the Time To Teach! strategy with those teachers, we parted ways with a renewed enthusiasm to reconnect in the fall and begin to work together.
Jan and I wish you a restful and rejuvenated summer as you look forward to a new fall.