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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Spring Thaw Leads to Spring Break Learning

This winter has dealt South Texas some strange phenomenons: 

1. several separate occasions of ice 
2. a few snowflakes
3. cold temperatures for more than a few days in a row
4. a snow day with no snow
5. only 3.6 inches of rain since the first of the year
6. eerie fog that lasts all day

On these days, attendance in classes is challenging at the community college. Everyone would rather stay home than go outdoors in bad weather. Those who make it to class write in their journals about family members and friends who are enduring blizzards, earthquakes, gale winds, fires, and frozen tundras. 

"No," we agree as a group, "we've never seen anything like it." A student places a sweater over shorts clad legs while another kicks off flip-flops. 
"Yes," we say, one after the other, "our winter is not so bad...no, not bad at all...fortunate...lucky...blessed..." There are no coats draped over backs of chairs nor any gloves or scarves on the tables. 

Suddenly, a young man stands and shouts, "A Spring thaw is forecasted, and spring break is only weeks away!" 

My students spend some class time discussing their spring break plans:

"I bought tickets to Six Flags!"
"I've got rodeo tickets!"
"I'm going to the beach!"
"I'm going to the beach at Padre!"
"I'm headed to a cabin at the lake!"
"I'm going to see my family."
"I'm going to sleep!" 
"I'm going to stay up all night and watch movies!"
"I've got homework."
"I've got lots of homework."
"I've got to catch up."
"I'm hoping to meet with a tutor."
"I'm waiting on financial aid."
"I blew my financial aid."
"I hope I can keep my kids busy all week!"
"There's an online list of free activities for kids!"
"I hope there's no rain."
"I hope it's warm!"

For many students, the Spring thaw leads to a spring break that's packed with activities. But, in the backs of minds is the thought that it lasts only one week. In that amount of time, students will have logged many hours on different kinds of activities. 

When we return to class from spring break, everyone will be in their seats and ready to learn--as soon as we write about our spring break antics then share whole group. Then, I will make a list of places to go based on my students' writings. We will console, cry, and laugh as real life stories are read. 

We are learning. It may not be what's on the curriculum chart for today, but we've learned valuable lessons that can't be duplicated. And, we've become a team. 

"We're in it together to the end," says a student.  


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