Celebrate with Ruth Ayres @ ruth ayres writes …. because, we need to celebrate moments in our lives every chance we get!
Quite honestly, I wasn’t going to celebrate this Saturday. It’s been a long week, it’s been a “nose to the grindstone” kind of week, and I really did not want to search among the memories of the past days to sift through the frustrations and worries to find things to celebrate. We all have weeks like this, so I know that I am not alone. Then, I read Christy’s post and her concluding lines rattled around in my head all night:
But I am also thinking about whether an hour and a half a day in my classroom has the potential to reach into a student’s heart, make a connection, change a trajectory. I am thinking about how to make my teaching matter.
Those lines fused with the face of one of my students, and that is what I finally fell asleep to and then woke up to: thoughts of this student, and his experience of school. This is a student who struggles. He has processing issues, retention issues, comprehension issues. In a more perfect world, he would be in a collaborative setting, with a special education teacher present in my classroom to assist him. But, we do not live in a perfect world, and he is in my classroom instead, which is divided almost neatly into two: a segment of highly motivated gifted students, and a segment of students with special learning needs. All year, I walk the tightrope between these two types of students, trying to meet the needs of both, trying not to shortchange either. Again, I am not alone – teachers everywhere do this every day.
Christy’s thought about making teaching matter really matters to this student – his learning challenges make every day in school particularly challenging, and it is all the more important to find ways to make his learning day matter, to reach into his heart, to connect. It would be the easiest thing in the world for this particular student to give up, to disengage, to give in to disruptive behavior – but he doesn’t. Every day, he gives his best effort. Every day, he tries. So, today, I am going to celebrate this student because:
He starts each day with a high five and a smile. Whatever his worries, he begins each day as though it was a brand new present, just waiting to be unwrapped and enjoyed.
He tries to do his best, to engage, no matter what. I know that is difficult – that holding his thoughts together, leaping from one abstract concept to the next, making speculations and drawing conclusions, are all difficult things to do. But his raised hand, his willingness to try to contribute, his eagerness to join in – all of this touches my heart deeply. If he is trying so hard to be the student he thinks I expect him to be, then I know I must try equally hard to be the teacher he expects me to be – one that is willing to listen, to encourage, to give him the chance to feel empowered to learn…and keep trying.
He is so brave. It is hard to get through each learning day when your brain is not wired for school. I can see how hard he works to “keep it all together” – his furrowed brow when reading, the look of panic when the test is passed out, the small glances at his classmates who seem to work though some sort of magic. I am so reminded of the passage in Patricia Polacco’s Thank You, Mr. Falker:,
When Sue Ellen read her page, or Tommy Bob read his page, they read so easily that Tricia would watch the top of their heads to see if something was happening to their heads that wasn’t happening to hers.
Yes, that is what he feels. But…he keeps going. He is so brave.
He has faith in himself. I think this is the part that I find so inspiring. In spite of all his challenges, he feels that if he works a little harder, pays attention a little closer, participates a little more enthusiastically, he will “get it.” Believing this, he is always the first to get to his seat in class, the first to volunteer an answer, the first to give something a go. It is a powerful gift, to have faith in oneself against all odds.
So I celebrate this student, this Celebration Saturday. He shows me every day that my teaching matters.
“You were born with potential.
You were born with goodness and trust. You were born with ideals and dreams. You were born with greatness.
You were born with wings.
You are not meant for crawling, so don’t.
You have wings.
Learn to use them and fly.”