Sometimes when I meet a line of students and lead them through the hallway to the gym, I turn around to look at them. Often, I admit, I am giving them the “Don’t-make-me-ask-another-rhetorical-question-about-our-understanding-of-line-behavior” look. And sometimes I look at them and smile.
I look at them and actually see them in their 6, 7 and 8 year old bodies. I see them smile back at me. I see them skip and wiggle at the same time. I see them jostle to get closer to their closest friends. I see them doing what kids do. I see them being who they are.
My students surprise and amaze me. They race into the gym whooping and hollering because they are HAPPY. They chat with each other because they know friendship. They will stop and listen to me for a hot minute because we practice respect.
I have first graders who can pair up and do their own set of stretches together. I have students at all levels of the elementary for whom a handstand or cartwheel is no big deal. I have fifth graders who have shown me tricks for juggling a soccer ball and managing a back walkover.
My students blossom and bubble when they talk, when they move, when they share. How quickly they comfort one another when someone is hurt, how sincerely they apologize to each other when feelings have been bruised. How open they are when they feel listened to.
How often I forget to drink in the beauty of the students I have before me. How accustomed I become to our habits of discourse that I forget that each child who tells me a bit of news is sharing part of their very special story, their very distinct view of the world WITH ME. I should feel honored and humbled. I forget that sometimes.
My students are lovely and wonderful and miraculous and sometimes I forget to look at them. I forget to see them. But when I remember, they are always a sight to behold.
image: courtesy of AISVienna
4 thoughts on “A Sight to Behold”
Living in the US’ largest state (California) where my daughters’ under-resourced, urban public school cannot afford an elementary school PE teacher (the classroom teachers do provide time and teach PE, but it is not the same), your very lovely post made me cry. We are so far from living this truth that you are speaking.
I am so sorry to hear about your daughters’ experience which is being repeated across the country. I do hope your girls have the benefit of teachers who are kind and generous and allow them to feel safe and cared for in school, even if specialized PE is lacking. I feel for you as a parent. We always hope for better for our children and when we are forced to settle for less than that, it’s hard. Thank you for sharing your perspective. It is vitally important that we continue to speak up and out on behalf of our kids’ needs.
My own kids’ teachers are as kind and generous as they can be given very large class sizes and challenging working conditions. And my kids are lucky and have lots of caring and talented adults in their lives (e.g., we’re among the small minority of families who can pay for private music lessons). But not all of their classmates are this lucky. Your post is a very good explanation of the ineffable value of having teachers who “see” kids in a different way than their classroom teachers. Which is not easily countable and thus not recognized by education policy. 😦
Love how you write about the good the bad and the ugly. Nothing quite cheers you up like K-2 students who are so happy to be in your class!