What does w-o-r-k spell? When I answered, “work,” the smile on my first grader’s face disclosed appreciation and understanding. At that moment, I had a renewed awareness of why I do what I do.
Most likely, my student will not remember that I taught him the words work, turkey, pumpkin and feast. But it won’t be difficult to recollect a teacher’s kindness, patience or explanations. These are children young enough to ask for a tissue or water or a trip to the restroom. As a result, I make certain to nod permission, look them in the eyes and smile an affirmation.
If my dedication to being careful with intellectual growth isn’t obvious, it is more so when my kids do crafts. Everything created is terrific, creative, excellent or absolutely fabulous. While I contribute construction paper, shiny bows, puffy stickers and felt sheets, they add everything else.
Most days result in gifts to the guest teacher. I’ve saved every one of them and they vary greatly in size and sophistication. But every one was received with sincere gratitude. All creations are good and valuable and beautiful. It won’t take too many years for them to be judged, criticized and corrected. For now, it makes sense to commend all things original.
My job is to make it possible for creativity to materialize. Math, spelling and phonetics don’t allow for much in the way of ingenuity; because of the days filled with routine, I work diligently to allow minds to work toward activities that are less structured. Happily, I’ve never seen a student decline an opportunity to make something original.
The same student approached me at the end of the day for the spelling of “love.” When I provided the necessary letters, the smile was wider than before. Maybe he realized that the love he received was more than the spelling lesson. Shalom.
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