Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New Year's Resolutions, Past year's ruminations

I haven't posted a blog for an entire season - Illness, family schedules and a class with a high percentage of new young students seemed to make it all go by in a blur... Now as I prepare for my favorite time of year I look back with fond memories, and ahead with new ambitions for this very active, strong bunch!

Our ten third year students are without a doubt, the most active, verbal and silly people  I have dealt with in a long time.  If asked to use a word to describe them I might say, "maddening' or I might say, "charming" depending on the day. They are creative, busy, verbal, controlling, happy, intense,  and loud.  It is these characteristics that make them tiring to deal with on some days. It is also what makes them so very special, and why I have learned to listen to them, watch them closely, and cherish their many insightful moments.

One of my boys has learned to be a quiet leader, helping young students with  enduring patience. One puts his uncommonly deep insights into carefully crafted remarks that sound odd from one so young. One little girl is really an angel, beneath the singing, dancing, joking exterior is a lovely thoughtful person so full of love for everyone that she practically glows.  Another little girl has become a support for the community with her fair and clear observations.  I could go on and on.  There is something deeply special about each and every one of them, and it has taken me three years to peel back the layers of each personality to find the exquisite spirit within.

I could look back at the past years with these kids and say, "This has been an exhausting run, these kids are difficult to control, and very demanding!"   But because I've had three whole years, and many very long days with all of them, instead I think, "What special and astonishing people these children are evolving into! What a gift to have experienced the joy and humor and love these kids bring to our house every day"  How I will miss them, and how I wish I could pin a note to each child's back when they leave!

This child raked a pile of leaves and then brought everyone over to see how it looked just like South America:  This child found a turkey feather on a nature hike and because another student loved it so much he made a gift of it. This child is very rough on the outside, but he asked if his kindergarten teacher made it to her mother's bedside before she died because he knew it would have meant everything to her to be there. ( I was struck speechless by the enormity of that moment - and I had to take his hand and look in his eyes and say, no.  No she didn't honey.)

This child rubs people's backs and gently massages them if she senses they are tired:  This child will include everyone in his game so that no one will feel left out:  This child will clean up the tired child's work because she is never tired:  This child will catch your eye and smile when you are at your busiest.

I want every future teacher to see the beauty within each as they move on. When they leave, they take a big part of me with them and it leaves a hole that is never filled. I am full of holes.  But I know that the upcoming children will be special and unique in their own ways.  I am already seeing where first impressions of my new students were off, and delighted by the things I have learned.  I can see what a great time we will have as the next few years go by, and we spend hours, days , weeks and months heads together, working out problems, learning new things, laughing, talking, and playing.

 I love January. I know everyone and they know me.  We had a grand time celebrating the fall holidays in all their fun and splendor, and now we have all had a much needed break. The classroom is fresh, new activities that I know will thrill them because now I know what they need.  We will all come back energetic, comfortable, and ready to work.  I want to do my best every day, and I want to give them the gift of a classroom that inspires them to become all that they have the potential to be.  We just spent a nine hour day conjuring up such a place - it happens that way in January...

Is there anything more we can ask from our jobs?  We hope that our parents can see what we mean. We want to make sure that this guided journey is educational and enlightening for all.  We want you to know that we do this work with joy and enthusiasm, and that we see your child. We see the best. We celebrate the best in them in all the obscure, off hand moments as well as the intense, focused times we spend with them.  We thank you for giving us the gift of  your children, and we hope you realize that they stay with us forever in our hearts, every individual, every year. And so we take flight in January - the next time we come up for air it will be spring.  And time to say goodbye. And time to hold tight to those who are staying.  The cycle of Montessori life!

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