"As a general rule, teachers teach more by what they are then by what they say."
A conversation with my son's kindergarten teacher reminded me of the most important lessons teachers need to learn, including me. To talk to your child's teacher and hear such care, compassion, and such knowing- (this person gets and appreciates how special my son is) is a lasting gift. Have I done that for my students? I've tried but think I need to try harder. Think I need to make it a tangible goal for myself next year to not let the amount of "stuff" I have to teach and deal with overshadow the young people in front of me, desperate to be seen and appreciated for how special they are. Humbled by this conversation and inspired to do better. Grateful that my son had this extraordinary teacher.
Family yoga on Saturday, this time with Alex. Megan and I took these classes in the spring and she loved it, wanting to go back. A different instructor greeted us. My son was excited to share he'd tried yoga in preschool and knew some of the poses. Megan was less delighted- where was the songs? The puppets? The scarves? The family yoga we were used to was very child-centric, with music playing frequently and changes in activity. Imagination and pretending, key parts of the class. Not so much for this class- it was pretty much straight poses. Megan grew bored (almost instantly) climbing on me, making it impossible for me to do any of the poses too. Alex kept his focus. But it was amazing how two classes, both advertised as Family Yoga, could feel so totally different. How the instructor's interpretation and understanding of young children and what they need was so key to Megan's enjoyment of the class. Another takeaway- curriculum comes alive in the way it is presented, interpreted, and delivered to the audience and the audience needs to influence the presentation, interpretation, and delivery.
When I was younger, I watched a lot of movies. One of my favorite movies of all time is Working Girl, featuring Melanie Griffith. In one scene, she says, "I read a lot of things....you never know where the big ideas will come from." I believe that. Dr. Mary Howard has written about starting each day reading a professional post, article, text, etc. and the difference that makes. I believe it, too. I believe reading about teaching and learning fills me as a teacher and a learner. This weekend, two posts I read that I deeply appreciated were from The Nerdy Book Club. Jess Keating's post, The Weight of a Life and Donalyn Miller's post, The Key To Summer Reading? Invest in Children's Reading Lives All Year spoke to my heart. Reading and writing give weight to our lives. We need to build readers all year, and I mean kids who WANT to read, not kids who are completing assignments. Lack of access to books is a real problem, but I worry a little more about the kids who have access and don't want to read. Where are we going wrong if our students think reading is just for school and not for life? Writing too? And how do we help our kids become readers and writers in every season?
Today was the "Senior Walk" at my school. The graduating seniors of 2017, the ones who started at my elementary school, came back to walk the halls in their caps and gowns. This group of students, mine 12 years ago, when they were kindergarten students and I still felt like a new teacher. I was Miss Neagle then. I stood in the hallway today, Mrs. Sokolowski, not new by any means, clapping as these young men and women walked by, and then caught the eye of one of my former students. We exchanged big smiles of recognition. Then three other girls shouted out "Miss Neagle!" and we did a big group big hug before they had to move on. Later, two young men who I remember clearly as five year old buddies stopped to take a picture with me. I'm so glad they were still friends, together as I always remembered. I recalled one of them used to play the piano- remembering the little five year old sitting at the large piano at the Talent Show. He couldn't believe I remembered that about him. But how could I forget? Once upon a time, he was my student. And it was important to know he played the piano.