Thursday, December 18, 2014

Are Your Lights On?

One thing I dislike about this time of year is that the sun sets early and darkness seems to trick my mind into thinking it is later in the evening than it is in reality.

Luckily, all but one of our family's vehicles have automatic lights, so driving in the darkness is not something I think about in terms of making sure my lights are on.

As I was driving my daughter to her small group meeting at church last night, we noticed a vehicle coming toward us without its lights on -- and it wasn't just the beginning of dusk -- it was nearly an hour after sunset. This not only surprised me, but gave me a sense of worry as well. 

The vehicle turned down the road we were turning on as well, so as soon as we were right behind it, I proceeded to flash my lights. As we stopped shortly after at a stoplight, I tried to signal again with lights and the honking of my horn, but to no avail. A short distance after the lights, we had to turn in another direction, and I was left with a feeling of nervousness. We continued on our journey, but my daughter and I kept talking about the vehicle without its lights on and we hoped that it would safely make it to its destination.

Many questions circled through my head as I considered what happened:

*Should I have dealt with the situation in a different way?
*Did the driver not understand my warning?
*What would happen as the driver continued down the dimly lit highway at 65 mph?
*Would another vehicle turn in front of this driver without realizing they were coming?
*Was it my responsibility to try to do more to help this driver understand their mistake?

As educators, we need to be asking ourselves and our colleagues, "Are your lights on?" 

What I mean by this is. . . . are we shining a light not only on what we are doing with our students, but also shining a light to lead the path for others?

Or, are we keeping the light to ourselves, dimly making our way down the twisting roads of education?

Are we noticing situations and warning signals that cause us to realize that our students or colleagues need a hand?

Or, are we blindly just "making" it through the day, oblivious to the flashing lights and honking horns that should alert us to an opportunity?

Before the lights of the classroom are turned off and the students head home for winter break, it might be a good time to check your lights.

This morning, I received this lovely lantern from one of
my fourth grade students. Coincidence maybe?

We are each gifted in a unique and important way. It is our privilege and our adventure to discover our own special light.  ~Evelyn Dunbar


  1. Hi Jen,
    This post is wonderful! It gave me so much food for thought... I am a tech coach at an international school in Shanghai and part of me always thinks if I have done enough for my teaches and students or as you put it, could my light be shining brighter, is it shining on the right path? This is so relevant when we talk about digital citizenship with our students, where it's an open playground for the students with no teachers on duty.
    Thanks for your insights.

  2. Thank you for reading, Amita. There is definitely more work to be done, especially in the area of digital citizenship. As teachers, we can hopefully pass our "light" knowledge along to each other and therefore brighten all of our students' paths.