As I was leaving the library, I "stumbled upon" a butterfly - an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail; it had landed on a spray-painted yellow arrow on the sidewalk, seemingly struggling against but simultaneously giving in to a strong breeze, as it flipped from side to side. A dying butterfly. I was transfixed. I lowered my backpack to the ground as I kneeled down to watch its quivering legs barely kick the air. I felt the need to capture, to somehow preserve an event that I had never before seen. I pulled out my Samsung and recorded 33 seconds of its last moments.
I wanted to take this butterfly with me, to keep it and preserve its form, to share its seemingly common yet profound beauty with my future students. Alas, after 10 minutes, that butterfly was still holding on to life with its last bit of strength. I walked away, hoping that some other naturalist-inclined or curious passerby would come across its still body and recognize its value.
As a new teacher, I believe one of my untold responsibilities is to share the bits of my life that happen before and after I leave the classroom, the experiences that make me. My observations, my findings, my curiosities, pieces of the world that form a collage of my perspectives. How important to share pieces of our world with students, to build it into our daily curriculum, and to then encourage our students and allow them frequent opportunities to reflect and share pieces of their world. Think of the learning possibilities! This is my idea of real-world teaching. And this sharing and experiencing helps build an understanding of what it means to have a unique perspective and human experience.
Digital media only opens up the avenues for collecting, recording, and sharing these experiences. Of course one must always think about appropriate and available technology for students, but simply sharing a photograph or an object is just as real, just as moving. I've started collecting interesting findings that I pick up on my walks in nature, bit of shell, claws, seaweed, rocks, bones, intent on using these artifacts to decorate my future classroom - bringing the outside in and allowing students to explore the bare minimum of our vastly complex and intricate world.
More than once a day I see or hear things that I automatically associate with future lessons or sharing with students in some way - images of social and political art - a legal graffiti tunnel, for example; interesting radio programs that are relevant to students as local and global citizens; exotic fruits in the market; instruments from across the globe in a gift shop - endless possibilities. As an educator, I am positive that I am not in the minority. This butterfly is just one in a million, but its story told in 33 seconds is worth more than a million words.