As I took a break from work, to breathe and enjoy the newest influencer in my life, my daughter, Stella....
I also reflected on influences in my life.
Most vividly, I remember a unit on Egypt. We discussed how the pyramids were built. We built boats that had to be weight tested in front of the whole school. He taught us about archeology and buried items in our school's long jump pit that we had to unearth and put together clues about the civilization that we had discovered. There was no workbook guiding us. There were hands-on experiences that put us in the role of discovery things for ourselves. It really impacted the way I thought about education.
I'm glad that I Mr. Nichols stepped out of the workbook environment and let us create things as part of our learning. I still remember testing my boat in my kitchen sink. I remember being engaged in the learning process and that learning was more than reading something off of a page. Those are experiences that stick with you!
It first guided me to want to work in a museum to be a part of experiencial education, but then I thought, why can't my classroom me like this? I used that approach towards my classroom designing class projects and lessons around the students taking on roles of ecologists, chemists, or engineers, to simulate real world situations. I allowed students to be hands on in the learning process inspired by my experiences in Mr. Nichols' class. I didn't let the workbook culture that dominated the majority of my learning experiences define my teaching, but the window that Mr. Nichols opened through his teaching style.