Brad Hall: THE TEACHER'S DESK: Sometimes, you have to get outside the walls

·3 min read

Sep. 23—It is 7:23 in the morning, and as I sit here at this familiar yet muddled desk, attempting to start my day, I hear the hollow slam of doors echoing down the hallway of this cold building. Somewhere, Jay our vigilant custodian, is fixing something I am sure. From where I sit, the air conditioning unit in my room begins to rattle and hum with a distracting consistency. I reach for my coffee. The machinations that initiate the day are falling into place, and routine is taking its residence in the demonstration of day to day reality.

I truly believe routine is important, but sometimes it's rather heavy in its complacency to repetition.

In reflection, the other day in an attempt to get out of the routine and cement walls, I took my Creative Writing students on an adventure to the Outdoor Classroom. It was the last class of the day, and a nice respite was needed. As autumn is getting its foothold, the days are losing that heavy umbrella of heat, so it was a perfect time to immerse ourselves in outdoor writing. The air was a little cooler as we crossed the wooden bridge that spans Bacon Creek and entered into that lush leafy area designated for such an exercise.

I dispersed the kids into the green, telling them to stay where I could see them, but to also find a comfortable spot and hopefully some inspiration. Our assignment was to find a tree and write about it; to take something ordinary and make it extraordinary. They were instructed to use imagery in their writing in order to appeal to their audiences' senses.

As ever, I was impressed with what they found with their words. One young lady, Alex Freeman, found her comfortable spot under a tree and wrote the following:

"It (the tree) had a mild brown color that mixed into a rusted red, as though a painter had haphazardly mixed paint on a pallet. A harmony of greens splotted up and down all sides where moss intertwined itself with the wood. Spiders had made themselves homes in the crooks and crevices. Branches stood out confidently at the top, greeting those of the trees around it. Its leaves were still full, but some had begun to change as the fall season moved in. Sunlight spilled in through the holes it could find, bringing life to the foliage below."

Another student, Olivia Jones, observed with her writing, "The lovely yellow rays of warmth emphasized every vein within the leaves, revealing the tree to be more elegant than originally thought. It almost felt as if Mother Nature took a special liking to this tree in particular, deciding it should forever spend its tranquil days in a spotlight for all passersby to admire."

Eventually, we wrapped up our writing exercise as we felt the cement walls of the classroom calling us back. We lifted our paper and pens and marched back to the school building. However, our step was a little lighter, our breath a little deeper. We had found and created something noteworthy and took it back to the halogen lights. When we breezed back into the building, I could feel that energy and sun come in with us.

I honestly couldn't remember how I started the school day, but I remember how I ended it.