It's exciting times for second grade at Kirbyville Elementary as they observe the miracle of life through the cycle of a painted lady butterfly. They invited me to the classroom to share their project, protectively admonished me not to touch them (you'd think the sign would be enough) and excitedly explained how the life cycle worked. (One student even wrote a letter of encouragement to the caterpillars to help them out.)* Anyway, it got me to thinking about our school year and how it is a cycle too. We begin the year with little "eggs" that need protecting and sheltering as we teach them the "ways" of their new classroom. After those procedures are established, the hungry little caterpillars devour all of the tempting learning we have to offer. I can't determine a literal time during the year that I would specifically liken to the pupa stage, but as students learn they need times of quiet...times to assimilate and accommodate all the new information that they are learning (or time to organize that mental file cabinet that is the brain.) Finally, the end of the year approaches. It is time to emerge as a new creature. As a butterfly emerges there is a struggle as he tries to straighten and dry out his wings. A critical thing to remember is that the struggle is a necessary part of the process. Step in to "help" and the butterfly is crippled for life. That is gaining the independence needed for the subsequent grade. Finally, kindergartners turn into first graders, first graders turn into second graders, second graders into third graders and third graders into fourth graders. They are ready to fly onto their new adventure.
*Letter from second grader to a caterpillar [sic]:
April 14, 2010
I wish you good luck on your pupa! I just can't wate tell you be a butfull butterfly!
Not that I don't like you as a Caterpiller!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!