When I think back to my years as a student, the memories that spark the most joy were the ones that were out of the ordinary routine. Popcorn parties on the playground. Parading through the school wearing costumes. Eating lunch in the “Rainforest Cafe,” which was the teacher’s lounge covered in crepe paper. Field trips. School assemblies and pep rallies. Learning about sign language and dog sledding during an exploratory day. Trying rock candy at a powwow. Walking to a country music radio station where our teacher was a weekend disc jockey. Creating my own country, Pina Columbia. Screen printing my own t-shirt design. Experiences made school a place I wanted to be.
Though I did not realize at the time, all of these experiences required adults to go the extra mile behind the scenes. Enthusiasm required. Comfort zones expanded. Forms filed. It took time, talent, and resources to make it happen for the benefit of kids like me.
Now as a teacher myself, I see how experiences impact kids. One of my favorite experiences that I have provided to my students was a community service field trip to a senior citizen technology fair. My students taught older adults about makerspace technologies like Sphero, littleBits, and Makey Makey. The maturity and tenderness that I saw in those eighth graders that day was so beyond anything that had occurred in our daily lessons. It was worth the time, effort, and sub plans to make it happen.
Experiences grow relationships. Experiences help kids connect to content. Experiences make learning more fun and memorable. Every kid can benefit from experiences in the classroom. There are teachers in our district that are creating awesome experiences for kids. Let's share (and not compare) those experiences to inspire each other.
- Tell about an especially memorable experience that you had as a student.
- Share an experience that you have provided to students in (or out of) your classroom.
- Why are experiences important for kids?
- What kind of support do you need to provide these experiences?
- If you had all of the time and resources required, what is a dream experience that you would love to give to your students?