On any given day, students enter my office inspired: bubbling over with excitement, even. They notice a need in our world and by proposing a popcorn sale or a bake sale, by making bracelets or creating art, they take the beginning steps on their journey to make a difference.
Evidently we have many projects on the go in our school. We do not streamline our efforts to one cause driven by adults but rather let students take the lead through projects of their choosing. So though we might not raise $10,000 for one cause, our students raise smaller amounts or reach out in other ways for causes important to them.
When I think about people in history who have made a difference in the world – Abraham Lincoln, Terry Fox, Rosa Parks – they were empowered to vie for change or help others. They saw how their voice or actions, often despite the odds, could make a difference. When I think about the students in our school, I see a similar sense of empowerment as they use their voices, their energy and their talents to help others. Just imagine the impact these students may have in the upcoming years. They are not hardened by pessimism; they are open to possibilities.
I look forward to the next excited proposal that walks through my door… perhaps as soon as tomorrow. I look forward to being inspired by our students once again.
Lately when someone asks how I am, my default response tends to be “busy.” It’s not what I say but it is certainly how I’ve been feeling and what I’ve been thinking. At this point in the year, there are so many things to wrap up for year end and of course much preparation for next year. In addition, student attention wanes as the glances out the window become more frequent and the outside temperatures more enticing.
I know how hard teachers work. I see it every day. This long weekend has been an opportunity to catch one’s breath during the marathon of year end. This job requires energy, enthusiasm and stamina. Thank goodness for the rest stops along the way!
Other than a recent mother’s day card, when is the last time you read a poem? Many people, teachers included, are intimidated by poetry. Let’s face it: if you have such a tendency, poetry within the curriculum can be easily avoided. And yet, poetry can be an engaging and creative part of your classroom.
If you are delving into poetry after a long absence, I do not suggest Homer or Chaucer. Try Silverstein or Prelutsky. Immerse yourself in poems for children and rediscover the playfulness of the language. Reading poetry out loud to children, listening to their candid giggles, can remind you of its pleasure. Once you have rediscovered this playfulness – or perhaps discovered it for the first time – only then consider exploring more serious or more difficult poems. The poems of Robert Frost, William Blake and Emily Dickinson are appropriate and accessible for children once the initial barriers of apprehension are broken down.
Before my students ever write their first poem, I surround them with poetry and let them read, explore and enjoy. This exposure helps them to realize that poetry can be fun and helps to squash any misconceptions they might have. No, poetry doesn’t have to rhyme. Yes, poetry can be about ANYTHING. No, poetry is not just for boys. Hmm… maybe it’s not as confusing as I thought. And yes, I like the sound of that!
Check out my website this week for specific poetry ideas: www.wordschangeworld.ca
On several occasions last week, I was asked what I liked about our school. I am thankful I can answer that question without hesitation. Though there are many things I could choose from, perhaps what I love best is the learning environment. You might think that would be a given considering that I work in a school. However, I love that our school is a learning environment for both students and staff. Our Thursday afternoons are not spent with long meeting agendas, covering items that are purely informational which serve only to invoke snoring and frequent glancing at one’s wrist. Our Thursday afternoons are spent in true professional dialogue, reflection and learning.
Whatever the profession or one’s place in life, learning challenges us to be better individuals. Whether reading a book, conversing with others or attending conferences, learning is valuable. If we are open, learning expands our thinking, helps us adapt to change, enriches our relationships, enables us to contribute more fully to society and ultimately helps us find meaning in our lives.
As Henry Ford once said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.”
What do I love about our school? I love that I am challenged and supported in my efforts to continue learning.