Tag Archives: garden

“summer” happenings

What does an instructor do when there is no one around to instruct? What does a garden do when there is no sun?

I’m learning the answers to both of those questions. The latter question is visually apparent to me right now: It does not grow many flowers, but it does grow lots of foliage. Lots and lots of foliage. I have dill that’s two feet tall! Leaves of all the flowering plants are overlapping. But few flowers.

The former question is also becoming quite apparent. I’m building. Developing. Planning. Reading. Meeting. (So many meetings!) Thinking. Writing. I’m starting to become concerned with all I’m doing! Some examples, if you’re interested: I’m planning TA and TF Development programming for the fall/winter. I met with public affairs to discuss a potential media piece on learning strategies, based off my 208 course. I’m writing a review of a textbook in preparation for an upcoming Canadian edition (more on that later!) — it’s the one I use for 217, and there’s a possibility I might be involved in the “Canadianizing” of it. I’m helping Sunaina to plan for our Psychology Tri-Mentoring program. I’m working with colleagues to start a casual network of instructors within the Faculty of Arts. I’m attending an orientation to become a peer reviewer of teaching (so exciting!). Oh, and I’m planning syllabi and assignments and lesson ideas and gathering new content for my courses! Wow. Write it all out like this is a little overwhelming. But that’s one of the things I really like about my job. I get to challenge myself to do more, think more, and be more. It can be an addiction though, and I need to watch out I don’t plan too much for the fall!

learning something new

Yesterday I began my journey into learning how to garden! With the guidance of our friend, Lesley Duncan, my husband and I transformed our condo’s dull, concrete balcony into something beautiful, complete with outdoor acacia wood flooring and a variety of filled planters.

I know next to nothing about growing plants. So when we set out in the garden centre I felt a bit anxious and confused. There are so many variables to consider: annual/perennial, sun needs, water needs, space needs, height needs… it was tempting to just give up. But I want to learn. Basic gardening can’t be that difficult, and the results can be beautiful.  So I sought Lesley’s help. She is a thoughtful, patient (award-winning!) teacher generally, and is also quite knowledgeable about horticulture. She helped us make decisions by listening to our needs and ideas, taught us how to plant, when to water, and so on.

Throughout the process, I felt keenly aware of my novice status. I felt emotions including excitement, anxiety, and a strong desire to avoid messing up. The experience reinforced something I have come to learn about myself: I often prefer to learn in communion with others. When I needed to learn about gardening, I didn’t turn first to a book or a website. I turned to a friend, a tutor, a guide, who could help me identify what I needed to know now in a sea of possible knowledge. (I’m now reminded again: “We teach who we are” (Palmer).) It was fun learning something new, but I’m not sure how much fun (rather than stress) I would have had if I didn’t have such a knowledgable, kind guide.

At the end of the day, when we were remarking about the future possibilities of bright flowers and voluptuous herbs, Lesley wisely noted that if something went wrong — a plant didn’t like it there, got over/under-watered or whatever — we would just learn not to do that again next year, but that it wouldn’t be a catastrophe. This simple nugget of wisdom offered me a productive way to frame whatever happens to our plants over the summer. Thanks for being such a great teacher/guide/friend, Lesley!