So a couple of weeks ago, as part of my usual classroom walk through routine, I stopped by a K1 (4 year old) class and sat down to watch. The kids were all seated on the rug and counting out loud the number of days that we had been in school so far this year, and of course it was super cute. As part of the lesson they were also learning how to draw the numbers on small square pieces of blue paper, and one lucky child was asked to put their own number drawing up on the display calendar for the class to see. Well, this little one was struggling a bit to form the numbers with her pencil so one of the teachers brought her to the table where I was sitting to practice…she was very excited.
The child tried a couple of times to write out the number 24 but it simply came out as squiggly little lines, so the teacher held the child’s hand and helped her write it down. After a few of these practices together, the teacher then let the child trace the numbers individually several times on her own until she felt confident enough to try again without any help. The whole time I was watching, I was amazed by the sheer determination and tremendous effort on the part of the child to learn, and I was inspired by the teacher’s encouragement and willingness to let the child struggle without coming to her rescue. Every few seconds the child would stop and look up at me and smile, giving me a look of “I got this” before putting her head back down and getting on with the learning at hand. Finally, after many tries and lots of struggle, the child took a brand new piece of paper and drew a beautiful number 24 on the little blue square and ran to go hang in up on the chart for all the world to see…and then it happened…for whatever reason, I burst into tears.
As I got up and left the room to compose myself, and to find some tissues, I began thinking about why that experience got me so emotional. I guess I just simply got overwhelmed in that moment…not just by the natural beauty of a young child so authentically learning, but also by how fortunate I am to be an educator. To be able to witness moments like that in life is such a tremendous gift, and as I wiped the tears away I felt my heart swelling up with joy knowing that magical moments like that are available to me behind each and every classroom door, each and every day of the year…how lucky am I? I guess my message this week for all of us is to keep our eyes wide open for those light bulb moments with kids, and to purposely search them out and celebrate them when you see them happen. Moments where hard work and struggle and effort and joy turn into life changing experiences for children…and for educators.
That little girl’s experience may be something that over time she won’t remember, but it will surely have a lasting effect on her relationship with learning and with school and on her life. The life lesson that we all need to learn early on, that if you work hard and practice and learn to find comfort in the struggle then eventually you’ll find some success. Those light bulb moments happen every day in schools and in all grade levels, so search them out and share them with others…share them with me! I’ll always remember that moment and that little girl, and for that I am grateful…I’m also grateful to have chosen this vocation because true magic is happening every minute of the day, and as educators we are able to be a part of it…magic that will literally bring you to tears. Have a wonderful week everyone and remember to be great for our students and good to each other.
Quote of the Week…
Teaching kids to count is fine, but teaching them what counts is best
– Bob Talbert
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