Celebrating this week is difficult. Wednesday morning I wasn’t sure I could face my students. Children of immigrants. Children of color. My colleagues texted me. Their messages added up to, what now? Exactly.
Looking for wisdom I turned to my virtual colleagues on Voxer and saw this quote shared by Tara Smith:
Within our hearts we know the society we wish to live in. No one can take that vision from us. We are each of us keepers of that promise.
This country has seen wars and grave injustices, slavery and even civil war in its past. Yet we found our way through. We will now, too.
It lifted me up enough to walk into my classroom with resolve. When I got there I found this amazing combination of need and strength.
Wednesday morning I read Voices in the Park by Anthony Browne. We read it for character, perspective, and theme. We read to understand these four voices. All with differing perspectives on that same experience. Differing points of view as my students would say. You can judge them. Who is right and who is wrong. The bigger work, our work as a classroom, was understanding them.
As I read it to one class, the sharp edge of the book cut my hand. I read on.
Meanwhile, two boys got up and walked to the back of the classroom where I keep band-aids. I read on. They returned to the carpet. One reached up and handed it to me. I wrapped my finger and whispered thank you and read on. They just did that. So kind and agentive. These students saw what was needed, reached out and helped. This is what we do. I celebrate their instinctive kindness, responsiveness, and agency. These students give me hope.
At recess, I walked back to my room and saw H. running toward me. “I need your help,” she said. She took me to the playground. “She’s being bullied,” H said pointing to a young girl. Another fifth grader was advising the youngster on steps to take. H looked at me and said, “We need the three steps to resolving differences here. We need an ‘I’m sorry bench.'”
They didn’t need me. These beautiful fifth graders had it under control. They knew how to resolve differences, and they took action. This week I celebrate the goodness that exists in their hearts and the bravery they have to stand up and speak out. These students give me hope.
This week I celebrate students who came to school. Who read, wrote, created, shared their fears, and stood up for goodness.
I am lucky to be with children. They give purpose. They give reason to do the hard work. They give hope.
We need to be there. For them. We need to be better. For them.
Find more celebrations here, at Ruth Ayers blog Discover, Play, Build.