This time of year is filled with celebrations, usually around light. Many different cultures celebrate light right now in order to combat the fact that it’s the darkest time of the year. I don’t know about you, but I find it difficult when I’m walking my dog at 6:00 am and it’s still dark. I’m thankful for the various celebrations that bring more light into the world.
But the great thing about the winter solstice is that it means that, while it’s the darkest day of the year, the next day will be a little bit brighter, and the next day after that, even more so. While you can look at the darkest day as an ending, you can also view it as a beginning – a new year, a birthday, if you will, for the sun.
I was invited to a solstice celebration this year, and the invitation talked about bringing something to give up – whether it was an actual item or a bad habit. I love this idea – again thinking about this time as a time for both endings and beginnings – for transitions.
As you know, I made the decision to leave Compositive Primary at the end of the 2021-2022 school year. This was a bittersweet decision for me. I have been involved with the school since it was an idea, and I have loved being a part of bringing that idea to life. We have created something really special, and I marvel at what our students do on a daily basis. And deciding to leave was incredibly difficult, but it was the right thing for me at this time.
And now the school and I are both going through transitions. My kids will both be in college, and I’ll be going full-circle to lead the school that helped launch my teaching career. I’ll be working with kids whose parents I taught over twenty-five years ago! And while I will be away from Compositive Primary, I will take so many things I’ve learned from our kids with me on this journey.
First, I’ve learned how important it is to just take time. Our world moves at a breakneck pace much of the time, and when teachers feel pressure to move quickly through curriculum, they become stressed and impatient, resulting in very little learning happening. But when our teachers take time to ask questions, to truly listen to kids’ ideas, to let activities unfold, and to find teachable moments in every corner of the room, amazing things happen. Kids start to ask big questions and start to believe that they have the power to find the answers.
The second thing I’ve learned from our kids is the power of humor in making connections. Our first year, one student somehow nicknamed our Director of Inquiry “Chicken Nugget.” And somehow, this became a nickname for me as well, not just for that student but for all of the students in that class. Because we went along with it and made up more silly names and analogies, it became a point of connection among us. And even though that student is no longer in that class, somehow those students have continued to stick with this name game and love to talk about it when we come visit (a side benefit of multi-age classrooms!). Through laughter and humor, I’ve formed wonderful relationships with our students and will always cherish them.
Finally, my favorite thing about working with these students, and what I learn every day from them, is the beauty of small moments. I’ve talked and written about these before, so it’s not a new idea for me. But working with these incredible students each day, I’m reminded of this lesson. We need to take time to reflect on small moments of joy because those moments come together to form the fabric of our lives. When I see the expression of pure joy on a student’s face when she tells me a joke, or when a student shares with me a moment of pride when he shares a self-portrait, I know I must treasure these moments and help our students to treasure them, too.
As we move out of the winter solstice and back into the light, I encourage you to take with you the lessons I’ve learned from your kids – to take time, to laugh, and to find joy and beauty in small moments. I look forward to sharing several small moments with all of you over the next several months. Happy New Year!