Blue Ridge

“Becoming Students”

Close up photo of a Red Salamander, which is a red-colored salamander with black spots

Photo by Greg Skupien

Teachers normally spend 180 days being the “experts.” Teachers always know where to turn in your homework, what time lunch is, the entire day’s lessons and when it’s time to finally go home. On this journey exploring through the North Carolina mountains, we teachers have quickly turned into the students. On day one of this trip we have been challenged to remember what it’s like to forget something you need, not knowing what’s coming next, and being encouraged to go outside of our comfort zones.

The summer rains were the backdrop to our group’s first meeting at Stone Mountain State Park in Surry County. We shared expectations and goals for the trip as a group. Since we come from a variety of backgrounds as educators we got to practice one of our expectations of “listening to each other” by sharing “I Am From” poems. Through this activity we gained insight into the places, people and cultures that make up every individual attending this trip. As we waited for the rains to disperse, we completed a grounding activity to become aware of the sights, sounds, feelings and smells all around Stone Mountain State Park. Through this activity we honed our observation skills and discussed how to bring this into each of our classrooms.

Photo of a man smiling and holding a salamander

Adam holding the first salamander of the trip!

As the day progressed, we continued to immerse ourselves in the surroundings of our new reality. Rolling over logs to find salamanders and worm snakes, sliding down freezing cold waterfalls, and observing the smallest of critters such as spiders, ants and net-winged beetles, we truly began to get out of comfort zones to get the most out of this experience. Creating positive relationships to learn, grow and play will be the backbone of our journey. Day one has set the bar high as it has been a complete success, with laughter, discoveries and freeze dried food!