A lovely, shy, insect eating skink

A lovely, shy, insect eating skink

I got a call from another Facilitator as I was leaving my house on Thursday morning so that we could touch base on a situation we had to work through regarding a prospective Learner. That conversation lasted through the drive to the drop-off location, and through multiple Learners being dropped off. We had a good conversation about some of the history of Abrome before she joined, and we also talked about facilitating through frustration. When I got off the call I noticed something moving in the grass at my feet. I called over to the Learner who was sitting nearby and we went searching for it together. It moved quickly through and under the blades of grass which made it hard for us to identify or capture. It did not take us long to realize it was a skink, and it took a bit longer to catch it. We admired it and then released it, and then wrote down our intentions for the day.

All but one Learner had arrived by the time we started our morning meeting, and the other Learner rolled in about half way through it. I tried to move quickly through the typical part of the morning meeting so that I could have a conversation about Covid-19. I wanted to speak with the Learners about Covid-19 because of some misconceptions I have heard from a couple of the Learners about how it spreads, and so that they could understand how their choices could impact others in the community. We talked about why being outdoors is safer than being indoors, why we are in smaller groups this year, the role of masks in reducing the spread, how duration and exposure impact the number of viral particles one may be introduced to, and how the size of the viral inoculum impacts the likelihood that someone develops Covid-19. We also opened up space to Learners to talk about any risk factors that they may have, and the people in their lives who would be put at risk if they brought the virus home. We also busted some myths about how easy it might be to catch the disease if we continued to engage in sensible social distancing and masking practices.

It was a long morning meeting, and most of the Learners indicated afterward that they wanted to head to the lake again. I asked if anyone wanted to go elsewhere, so that we did not get into a pattern where a majority was always dictating where we would spend our days. No one indicated a desire to go elsewhere, although a couple said they were indifferent.


A Learner writing down the words she is focused on for ASL

When we arrived at the lake, a Learner pulled out some writings that she had printed out and handed them to me and another Learner so that we could give her feedback. I asked if she wanted edits focused on punctuation and grammar, or bigger picture feedback. She said that she was interested in all forms of feedback so I spent a fair amount of time editing it as the morning went on. The Learner eventually asked if she could join me, and we talked about a wide variety of issues that related to her life. One of the benefits of trying to build an SDE community where children are free from judgement, assessment, and ranking is that it opens up space for them to share their interests and struggles. In doing so we can better support them and work with them to navigate life, instead of forcing them to navigate around us.

During this time the other Learners were doing a variety of activities. One was working on developing her comics, another was making balls and discs out of mud and sand so he could throw them at a tree, and another one joined in on that effort after some time, and a few Learners were working on their American Sign Language (ASL) skills. When the Learner I was talking to returned to the dock she also began working on ASL with the group.

I would love it if these hikes became an everyday occurrence

I would love it if these hikes became an everyday occurrence

One of the Learners had asked me if I wanted to go on another hike and I said yes. Then another Learner said he’d like to join for the hike, as well. I checked in with the other Learners to make sure that they would look after and take care of each other, and to remind them that they cannot swim without a Facilitator around, and then I took off on a hike with the two Learners. The Learner who had the most experience at this particular park once again took the lead, and led me and the other Learner down a trail that neither of us had been on. We came across a tiny waterfall that we didn’t know existed, and past dried stream beds that were likely filled with running water just last week. Finally, we stumbled upon the wonderful waterfall and swimming hole that we have visited a fair number of times, but today it was dried out. There were drops of water coming over the rock into the pool area, but they were no match for the evaporation from the heat and the sun. Nonetheless, it was still a beautiful spot and we sat down and enjoyed it for a moment.

at the dried out water hole.JPG

A great place to sit, halfway through an invigorating hike

One of the Learners decided that he wanted to grab a fallen tree that had a home in the pool and take it back to the lakeside. I asked him kindly not to impale anyone during the hike back. We went up a steep hill and then gently worked our way back down to the lake. It was great exercise and by the time we got back I was ready to jump in the water.

A couple of Learners were on the dock and I asked if any wanted to jump in. Three of us decided to jump off the boat house in quick succession. It was refreshing, but unlike the prior day, one jump was enough for me, and it seemed to be for the others, as well.

The day quickly wound down, and the Learner who had been working on her comics reminded me what a wonderful experience it was to have the afternoon meeting in the water. She also reminded me that having each of the Learners out of the water say something nice about one of the Learners in the water was fun and funny. So I went with that as the facilitator of the afternoon roundup. Three Learners and myself were in the water when we started the meeting, and three Learners were out of the water. When I mentioned that due to the numbers everyone in the water could say something nice about someone out of the water, but everyone out of the water would need to say something nice about two people in the water, two of the three Learners ended up going in. Both of them pretty spectacularly—one by flopping entirely in, and another by losing his balance and falling in off the dock. It was a fairly goofy ending to another great day in the sun and the water.

A damsel fly dropped in to say hi at the end of the day

A damsel fly dropped in to say hi at the end of the day