Many years ago now, I remember a fellow educator saying this to me: “Go through your list of students. Can you tell me at least three different things about each of them?” She was not talking about academics here. She was talking about the child. What is each child passionate about? When we get to really learn about our students, we also start to form connections with them, which positively impacts on both behaviour and academic success. This video reminds me of this point over and over again.
My amazing teaching partner, Paula, has added to this thinking over the years when she’s taught me that in addition to us learning about our students, it’s important for them to learn about us. Sometimes it’s through the insights that we share, that connections form. I really thought about that this year.
A couple of days ago, I shared this watermelon story on Instagram.
We don’t often hear or speak about the upside of virtual learning, but during a time of numerous restrictions, the opportunities to share a snack together and connect more with students, were definite positives. Yes, watermelon is my favourite food of all time, but it’s the reason why that I’ve never told anyone. When I was growing up, watermelon was my dad’s favourite food. My mom always bought watermelons each summer, and my sister and I would sit and enjoy them with my dad. We would eat watermelons for whole meals. As I’ve blogged about before, I was not really close to my dad growing up, but we developed a relationship again as we both got older and before he unexpectedly passed away. Watermelon might just be a fruit — and a great one at that — but for me it’s about the memories that make this fruit extra special. The gift of the most perfect watermelon spoke to a very special two years and the power of relationships and connections.
I thought about this even more in the final days of school, when every gift, note, and card that we received brought with it a little something special.
- From the parents who made a donation to the SPCA in Molly and Sammy’s honour …
- To the personalized lanyards that include “Crockett” and “Dunsiger” without the need for a title …
- To the numerous portraits, paintings, and drawings that kids made for us because art was such an important part of both our online and in-person worlds …
- To even the gift cards to coffee places, restaurants, and bookstores: knowing the places that we love and the ways that we spend our time.
This post is our heart-felt “thank you” to all of our incredible families, who provided us with so many wonderful memories, happy times, and important connections, even with a few (or many) pivots along the way. What are your watermelon stories? I think that I’ll always remember this year and what happens when we share a bit of ourselves with our students, and vice versa.