By Jenn Hayhurst
Teachers are getting ready to close our classrooms for summer, and begin to open our minds for deep reflection, and planning for future goals. On June 2, 2016 #G2Great asked teachers everywhere to ponder their practices more closely: Looking Back on 2015 2016:Reflecting on the Past to Enhance Our Future. As I consider my personal impact during the school year, some nagging questions begin to cycle through my thoughts: Did I do enough? What could I have done differently? If only I had a little more time, maybe I could get to that next thing – whatever that thing may be. Can you relate? If you can, I feel as though a good story might help put our hearts and minds at ease.
Dottie Hayhurst is a petite efficient woman who has a knack for making things grow. Each year she works with diligence to plant her tulip bulbs in the fall. With deft determination she nimbly digs deep holes and places each bulb with great care. She considers many things: Will the colors compliment each other? How far apart should the bulbs be? Where will they get the best light? How should they be arranged so that they enhance the flagpole, the driveway, the walkway? Then she tucks them soundly into the ground, she tends to the soil, and finally she lets time do its job. By the spring her garden is just lovely. Joyful growth colors the world to celebrate spring. Dottie’s garden offers up tulips to the world as a beautiful tribute to her dedication over time. She makes the world better one tulip at a time.
A garden needs time and constant care. This is also true for teaching. Honing our craft is a slow and steady process of reflection and goal setting. There are days when students’ learning seems invisible to us. Having a vision paired with professional experience helps us understand that growth is happening below the surface. No matter how committed we are to student growth, for many children that growth happens on its own clock.
Our impact can have an opposite effect too. We can set children back, not even realizing what we’ve done if we’re not reflective. We must reconcile the challenges of our own practice and the time and development of children. Our response to that truth is to be fully present and mindful, to find ways to measure growth.
Let’s celebrate the idea that students are always becoming. Especially when they do not have the self-awareness to know this for themselves yet. Make a promise to show them all the great work they have done and will do based on all the great work they’re doing now. When we have an unwavering belief in students we are giving them what they really the most.
So as each of you look back on the 2015 -2016 school year, reflect on these questions:
- How did I make my students feel about themselves?
- What evidence do I have that shows I made a positive impact on their lives?
- What do I know about this child as a learner?
Every child should know they are unique and are worthy of all our attention and high expectations. It’s as simple as saying, I believe in you. They need to hear this whether they are in elementary school, middle school, or high school. We are not here to “fix” children but to learn alongside them. We cannot be the teacher we hope to be in the coming school year if we are not open to learning. Learning about students is the only way to them grow. In the 2016-2017 school year, let’s make the world better…
One student at a time.