Monday, August 26, 2013

Fireflies and school buses--

Last night--  the sun went down and the twinkling of fireflies captured my attention-
Always, they've seemed magical and caused me to wonder on their being, where they'd light next.

And then this morning, for the first time in 2 months, school buses rolled by our home, stopping as they proceeded north to pick up our high school neighbor; later, going south, they scooped up the first grader from the house on other side. It's the beginning of a new school year in Chardon.

A coincidence-- fireflies and school buses, the first day of school. Maybe for some but for me it was a perfect confluence -- for I'd been seeing Tweets galore about back to school and posts on blogs too. I'd been thinking lots on first days-- for so very many years they held great promise and possibility personally for me. I know they must for every teacher  too.

Here's my wish for Chardon's teachers and every educator as this new school commences (and here's how the fireflies come in).

I wish that every student will share the same feelings that John Steinbeck eloquently penned in "Captured Fireflies"

In her classroom our speculations ranged the world
She aroused us to book waving discussions.
Every morning we came to her carrying new truths, new facts,
New ideas cupped and sheltered in our hands like captured fireflies.
When she went away a sadness did not go out.
She left her signature upon us.
The literature of the teacher who writes on children's minds.
I've had many teachers who taught us soon forgotten things,
But only a few like her who created in me a new thing, a new attitude, a new hunger.
I suppose that to a large extent I am the unsigned manuscript of that teacher.
What deathless power lies in the hands of such a person.

I hope you'll reread Bud Hunt's eloquent classic letter to teachers especially the last few lines:

I wish you well. I ask you to be brave and humble and kind and tenacious and wise and caring and gentle and fierce.

And one last wish, I hope your students will find unconditional acceptance as they learn with you. Alfie Kohn's 2005 article in Educational Leadership speaks to the potential of Unconditional Teaching--

In short, unconditional acceptance is what kids require in order to flourish.

we need to think about whether our posture toward students really provides them with as much of the unconditional acceptance they need as possible.

Keep these close to your heart-- the magic of captured fireflies, the request for bravery, humility, kindness, wisdom, caring, gentleness and fierceness, and children's needs for unconditional acceptance -- especially on those days that are challenging and difficult and possibilities will abound--

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