Perspective

Two years ago the week after Thanksgiving, my co-worker and I were discussing setting up a Christmas tree in the classroom we share. Our discussion went something like this.
Mary: “When are we going to put up the tree?”
Me: “Are you crazy?! Put up a Christmas tree for two weeks? Do you know how much trouble that is?
Mary: “Ah, come on…let’s do it.”
Me: “You feel free to go right ahead. You drag a tree in here. You sort and put up the lights. You copy and gather stuff to make ornaments with 70 kids. You cut, glue and glitter. You decorate the tree. You clean up the mess. You take it all down in just a few days.”
Mary: “I guess you are right. It is a lot of trouble…not worth it.”
Me: Smile.
Probably less than a day later, I was sitting with students at the table working. I casually asked if they had their trees yet. Out of the four at the table, three of them told me they don’t have Christmas trees. A few similar questions throughout that day revealed that many of my students do not get trees. Perspective.
After school, my co-worker and I had another discussion that went something like this.
Me: “We have to get a tree.”
Mary: “You feel free to go right ahead. You drag a tree in here. You sort and put up the lights. You copy and gather stuff to make ornaments with 70 kids. You cut, glue and glitter. You decorate the tree. You clean up the mess. You take it all down in just a few days.”
Me: “It is the only tree they will have. We have to do it, trouble or not. You were right.”
Mary: Smile.
Since that time, we have had a Christmas tree each year. No discussion needed. The trouble is indeed worth it to see the faces light up every time we plug it in.
We also have a Christmas party complete with tablecloths, food, gifts, and Christmas music. This year we were considering cutting way back on the party due to finances and furloughs. Maybe some popcorn would be enough. A boy came in and out of the blue asked us, “Are we having that party thing again?” I asked him what he liked about the party. He said, “The room is all decorated and the tables look good with stuff on them.” What I HEARD him say between the lines was, “I felt special to have the room all decorated up just for me.” Perspective. And so we will have a full party, including gifts (a new book) for each of our 85 kids this year.
Today I had another student say he doesn’t want a Christmas break from school. “I have more fun here with you, and we never do anything for Christmas anyway.” Then he asked me, “Do you think you could ask them if we could cancel the break?” Perspective.
I don’t know about you, but I think there is way more to teaching than math and reading. I believe that children are made up of body, soul, and spirit. The soul (mind, will, and emotions) is what we focus on in schools when we teach. Program the minds. Train the wills. Deal with the emotions. All important tasks for sure. However, it is the spirit of a child, that is his/her essence. It is the God sized part, which resides in us all. It is far bigger than the mind we strive so hard to reach. It overshadows the will, be it strong or weak. It connects with the emotions in order for us to feel the truth… that we are created to be great. We are made in his image, just the way he wants us to be. The heart of a teacher (mine anyway) is about pouring into the spirit of a child…the part of their being that receives the deeper lessons. The lesson of acceptance, that grows into confidence. The lesson of belief, which breeds hope. The lesson of care, that gives birth to kindness. The lesson of grace, which grows into understanding. The lesson of love, that brings smiles and sometimes tears.
Oh yes, and I mustn’t forget the lesson of poverty which teaches generosity…to the teachers. Perspective.

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