Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Waiting with Anticipation

"I'm waiting......." she said in a semi-sarcastic tone as she sat patiently with a large package on her lap, eagerly anticipating her next turn to open a Christmas present. The five-year-old daughter of my husband's cousin was trying to make her feelings known as she was waiting her turn to open another gift.

Around the living room, her much older teenage cousins took turns opening presents while her younger sister was happily distracted with a new toy.

Was she bored?  Probably not - plenty of toys, games, and art supplies were in opened packages surrounding her.

Was she impatient?  Somewhat, given that she was a very excited five year old with a pile of Christmas presents, not to mention she was in a room with eleven other adults and five teenagers involved in their own conversations and not rushing to open their gifts.

Still her voice cut through the air and made me stop and remember.....what awesome anticipation a young child has, not only for Christmas but for every day.

Sunday, December 21st celebration at Grandma E.'s house.
As children grow older, their patience level tends to rise to balance their anticipation. On the same evening, my sixteen year old daughter was "behind" a couple presents in the rotation and didn't even realize or mind it as she was enjoying the experience of watching everyone else discover their new gifts.

This experience made me wonder if, as teachers, we are misinterpreting what we classify to be boredom and impatience?

What will our students be anticipating as they return to our classrooms after their winter break? What will draw them in and keep their attention, or prompt them to ask for more? Will they be eagerly anticipating each day of class, opening new "gifts" of learning as they unwrap new ideas and skills?

Or, will they be saying, "I'm waiting......" as we carry on with our everyday routines and lessons?

Will their level of patience and self-control be sufficient, or are they sending us signals that they are anticipating a learning experience that will be one to be remembered when their parent asks, "What did you do today?"

Not every educational experience will match the joy of opening a gift at Christmas, but a classroom that regularly evokes the anticipation of a child will be the arena for awesome learning experiences.

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

Monday, December 1, 2014

Try Something New

"We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths." ~Walt Disney

A curiosity for something new can keep our teaching fresh and our classrooms an unpredictable learning space. Instead of worrying too much about the end outcome, focus more on the process and the learning that will take place along the way.

I will be the first to claim I'm not an expert, but I'm definitely curious about many things and a fairly quick learner. I love trying new activities, "stealing" great resources from other teachers, and being a part of groups that are moving forward with their ideas.

I'm in the planning process for a big step forward in trying something new and the next two months will be interesting and exciting as all the details come together. Regardless of the outcome, a lot of fun and learning will be had along the way!