It’s hard to believe we’ve hit the home stretch. Non-teachers often say, “You must be winding down.” Teachers (and all those who live with a teacher) know, we are not winding down: we are gearing up! June will arrive in a few short days and each day will be busier than the next as we cross one-thing-after-another off the to-do list.
Amid the hectic nature of these days, this last month of the school year is a wonderful opportunity to guide students through a process of reflection and celebration of their learning. Students are often surprised to look back through their year’s work to see the progress they have made. It is rewarding to hear them say, “I’m really proud of this project!” or “I remember doing this!”
We have hit the home stretch. And as much as we look forward to the sunny summer days ahead, we should be sure to make each of these last days meaningful for our students. To teach them, guide them and inspire them to be their best selves.
Imagine meeting your students ten or fifteen or even twenty years from now. What do you want them to remember about this year? How do you want them to feel about being in your class? Most important, what will you do to make that happen?
I finally got around to watching the movie Hidden Figures this weekend. It got me thinking about how much has changed in the last 50 to 100 years: in particular when it comes to civil rights, gender equality and technology.
The movie is based on a true story about three African-American mathematicians who played an integral role in NASA before it was ‘acceptable’ to have either blacks or women involved in such a way. These women were truly groundbreakers.
A quote by Helen Keller came to mind while I was watching: “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”
There will always be areas where the ground needs breaking. And there will always be individuals willing to break that ground. We don’t want our students to place limits on what they can do. We want them to go out and do it!
Today, many people celebrate and honour their mothers. I am grateful for my own mom and her strength and sense of fun. I am grateful for her faith in me even when I doubt myself. I am grateful for her willingness to help her children in whatever situations we face. I am grateful for her unconditional love.
I realize that I am fortunate to have this relationship. For many others, today is a painful day. For some it highlights loss, trauma, strained relationships, broken relationships, or an inability to have children. There are adults and children alike who find this day difficult.
I think of the students in my own school … the grade five student whose mom died when she was in Kindergarten … the student whose mother is an addict and hasn’t seen her son for years … those students in foster care who have vague memories of their biological mothers but often painful or traumatic ones … and the many students who, simply put, do not have positive relationships with their mothers. Sadly, this reflects the reality in most schools. There are kids around the world in these circumstances.
Is Mother’s Day then something we should avoid so as not to offend? Is Mother’s Day passé? No, I don’t believe so.
In our school, as Mother’s Day (and Father’s Day) approach, we encourage our students to honour someone important in their lives. It doesn’t have to be a mother in the traditional sense of the word. But this day provides an opportunity for discussion about the diversity of family dynamics and also helps to instill an empathy and sensitivity for those whose circumstances are not necessarily positive. Often, it is through these discussions that students learn to appreciate what they do have a little more. Often, it is through these discussions that our school families grow a little closer. Often, it is through these discussions when students inspire me with their words of support to their peers.
Mother’s Day is not passé. It simply needs to be approached with awareness and sensitivity.
Yesterday at our assistant principal meeting, I had the pleasure of listening to three principals speak about their journeys in leadership.
It is immediately clear as they speak that all three are in leadership positions for the right reasons. All three recognize the challenges of the job as opportunities for growth. All three genuinely care about their students and their needs. They recognize their staff members as individuals with unique stories and circumstances and do what is necessary to support them on their own journeys. All three strive for balance but give their heart and soul into their callings.
The common thread between them can be summed up in one word: integrity. Integrity is earned over time and proven through one’s words and actions. It is high praise and I don’t use the word lightly. It is something I believe we should strive for no matter our role.
“It is true that integrity alone won’t make you a leader, but without integrity you will never be one.” Zig Ziglar