Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Rolled Up Inspiration


     Being an instructional coach means less opportunity to build relationship with a lot of students. When you don't have your own classroom, it's hard to have daily interactions with the same students and to really get to know their story. This year, however, I was able to do just that with a middle school student. Her teacher asked me to read some of her writing and it was phenomenal and I made the point to tell the student so.

     Back in September she time she asked if I would read more of her story, as she had gotten a lot more done. Of course, I said, "Heck yes!" She left it for me that same day, and it took me well over an hour to read the latest pages of her realistic fiction story...and it was just as amazing as the first part. The child clearly had a lot in her heart and on her mind and all that loveliness came out in her writing. On the last page of her journal I wrote to her and told her just that. 

     Jump forward to yesterday, a whole 3 months later. I had the seen this young woman in the halls a few times, but there was only time for a quick hello--as she was surrounded by friends and dashing to her next class. Yesterday however, we met in the hallway during a class period. She asked me when I was going to come back to her language arts class again. I told her that right after Christmas I had talked to her teacher about coming in and talking about blogging. I asked her if she had ever thought about blogging and explained to her that I think she would be amazing at it as she has so much to share with the world. I said to her, "Don't you ever forget YOU are a writer!" Her response floored me. 

   She stopped, and that tall lanky girl, dressed in her blue jeans, plaid shirt and cowboy boots, reached deep into her pocket and pulled out a piece of paper. It was notebook paper, folded and then rolled up into a tiny cylinder about two inches long. She said, "I'll never forget. I've got your letter right here." 

     The moment she held up that piece of paper was a moment in my teaching career I'll not ever forget. It reminded me that it is not about the books, technology, how the desks are arranged, or even the grade on the report card. If we can make students believe in themselves that they are leaders, learners, writers, communicators of good and wonderful things-those things should be what guide us. It's about relationship and that it is emotion that truly drives learning. If I've learned anything it's that when you focus on relationship first, every thing else, and I mean EVERYthing else, falls in to place. Students are motivated not to only please you, but because you empower them, they will see themselves as capable of so much.

     Yesterday I received enough inspiration to last me a long time--and when I retire some 10 years or so, I'll remember the little things that spurred me on...I'll remember that small bit of rolled up inspiration. 


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Be a Seeker

During the cold months we all become seekers. Animals are seeking a warm place to settle down until spring warms the air and food is easier to find. The Christmas story tells of two lowly people seeking shelter to birth a child. Shoppers are seeking for that just-right gift for a loved one.

Seeking takes time and deadlines put pressure on us often to find answers right away. The animals must find shelter before the air is too cold and the ground too hard to settle in to warmth and safety. Mary and Joseph, with birth imminent, had to seek and find an answer ON THE SPOT (something we teachers do all the time...we're amazing that way.)  Shopper must work around the obstacles of crowded aisles and crazy people, seekers just like them, with a deadline to find that perfect gift. 

As an educator--seeking is a big part of what we do all year long. We seek ways to connect with a struggling reader. We seek out resources to make a lesson meaningful that will connect a child to the greater world....to his future. We seek out collegial relationships to grow ourselves through gleaning ideas from the experts around us. Every day. Every--single--day, we are seeking. 

This is a season of hope. Educators are always looking for what is around them to BE hopeful. A child's future. A new collegial relationship. A new plan to carry out an amazing lesson. It's what drives us forward.

Hang on to your hope, and may it spur you on to be a seeker. 

"We must be awash with hope."
~The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane