It's August and rainy, not actively but the sky is grey and the air hints at a summer storm that blew through last night. The fact is, I like it. My thoughts have returned to work and my first "official" meeting of the school year is just 2 days away. A little cleansing rain and preparation for the changing of the season is good for my psyche.
Change invigorates me. Oh, I like my routines and normalcy, but I thrive on the subtle changes that occur within that realm. Teaching fits me perfectly--I get to continue to do the "same" things each year but each day is completely different from the prior. Children flit into my life in mid-course of their own lives and dance out 9 months later forever changed but still changing. I, too, am forever affected by what they have given and taken from me.
I have been spending much of my time reflecting on the classroom dynamics of years' past in preparation of the class that will meet me in a few weeks. This is both good and bad. The nightmares certainly reflect my biggest fears (strangely-and thankfully-none of the horrors that meet me in my sleep have ever actually happened on my watch, but each year the possibility of them happening is so present in my thoughts...). Nightmares are the norm in a teacher's August. I would rather dwell on my greatest hopes for the coming school year.
Thus, I have recently found a desire to reflect to find what it is that brings my classroom community together. I truly believe there is a key student or small group of students that make each year a defining one, where growth for all involved occurs. It's never the best academic student, nor is it the popular child, and often it's not the student who is quietly making their way through the world of social and academic requirements. No, it's the student who lives their life out loud, in many cases a bit too loud for the community. It's also the student who attempts to hide behind a mask of silence or even absence.
In any classroom these students exist. But in the best classrooms these children EXIST: they are seen, heard and responded to in a way that allows them to find acceptance. I'm not just speaking of acceptance within the classroom community, however important that is. More importantly they find what it is they bring that is unique and accept the greatness within themselves that they can then share with their peers.
This discovery of being needed, of being helpful, of being an integral part of the whole starts in my classroom with the simple act of getting me my tea.
The Tea Runner is my reflection on the trials, the triumphs, and the day-to-day happenings in a community of children just trying to make sense of themselves, their peers and ultimately-the world.