When I welcomed my energetic, pre-eclipse third graders into the classroom this morning, I knew that it would be a memorable day for them. They completed the usual breakfast protocols, spent most of an hour in art class and prepared for the eclipse with numerous educational videos.
Somewhere between all of those events, I managed to advise the class that I could speak with those who were Spanish-speaking, making certain that they were able to understand all warnings, suggestions and directions.
When I made the announcement, there was a young man in the back who suddenly appeared illuminated. As soon as he was able, he came bounding to my desk with a toothpaste commercial smile and began speaking to me in Spanish.
At least ten times throughout the day, he returned to me to ask the usual questions – permission to use the restroom, where should he put his math paper and sometimes, just to smile at me. It was as if I had delivered a precious gift to him alone, one that he could take out and admire at will.
It was business as usual for me. Once more a student taught me a lesson that I could never have anticipated. When we speak to those who look to us for knowledge and approval, it is vital that we use the most suitable language available. I will never forget his expression when I said, “Muchas gracias!” and smiled. Maybe we can all benefit from carefully planning the language to use with those we touch. Shalom.