Blueberries and Students

A pint of blueberries such as these is just not a reality in our classrooms!

Blueberries are in season and they are on my mind.  Actually, they are in my fridge, in my pancakes, and my plan is to make a pie this week with the ones my kids and I will be picking soon.

Last week, I wrote about how the arts are like blueberries – fold them into your arts integrated lesson as you would blueberries into a batter.  Today, I would like to compare blueberries to students.  But first, I need you to go HERE and read this great story by Jamie Vollmer, a business executive who spoke at a school and was taught a lesson.  No really- GO!  But please come back. 🙂

<<< Reading Break >>>

Now let’s discuss:

Our students are like the pint of blueberries you grab and bring home.  But let’s face it, how many blueberries do we cast aside?  How many times have I tossed aside a berry that is too underdeveloped or been grossed out by a smooshed one?  The other day, as my daughter and I sat at the breakfast table, making our way through a pile of blueberries and I watched her pick through them.  The story mentioned above was going through my head and I was picturing all the students I have had over the year.  Johnny was the smooshed one, Suzie, the green one, and the one clinging to the stem for dear life?  That was Jo-Jo.

These blueberries better represent our students.

The fact is we do get all the blueberries in our classrooms and we have to keep and teach them all.  What a challenge!

What did I take from this story?  Three things.

  1. We must take care to make all students feel like they have a place in our classroom.  We can’t just cast them aside like they belong in the trash!
  2. All my students have such a variety of needs: ADHD, special needs, speech, single family homes, hunger and homelessness, giftedness, mental issues, autism… I need more training in working with ALL these children so that I can be a more effective teacher!
  3. Using innovative means to reach all students is becoming more and more important.  We must think about the use of technology and arts integration not as an add on to the traditional rigor of classrooms, but as an integral part of our teaching repertoire.

As I sit here finishing up this post, I’m thinking about the pint of blueberries that sits in my fridge downstairs.  Now I know I can be sentimental sometimes. I have been known to give names to my cars, personify the trees in my yard and thought of inanimate objects as having feelings (I just can’t bring myself to get rid of that old teddy bear.)  So, yes, a glimpsing thought of, “oh, that poor smooshed berry,” or “poor little guy, he didn’t have enough time to mature before being picked,” has crossed my mind.  But as silly as that may sound, I do look at blueberries differently.

How about you?


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Article by Elizabeth Peterson

Elizabeth Peterson has devoted her life to education and to reaching out to other teachers who want to remain inspired. Mrs. Peterson teaches fourth grade in Amesbury, Massachusetts and is the host of She holds an M.Ed. in Education, “Arts and Learning” and a C.A.G.S. degree with a focus in “Arts Leadership and Learning.” Elizabeth is author of Inspired by Listening, a teacher resource book that includes a method of music integration she has developed and implemented into her own teaching. She teaches workshops and courses on the integration of the arts into the curriculum and organizes the annual summer Teacher Art Retreat. Mrs. Peterson believes there is a love of active, integrated learning in all children and from their enthusiasm, teachers can shape great opportunities to learn.
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