Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Lessons Learned from a Hanukkah Candle

Being Jewish I like to teach my students some of the costumes and traditions associated with Hanukkah. We read books about Hanukkah (Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins by Eric Kimmel is a repeat favourite), look at a menorah and play with dreidels.  Last Wednesday morning we also lit my personal menorah.

As I struck the first candle, and used it to light the second candle something happened.  The second candle was not fully lighting.  We watched it for what felt like a long time and while it wasn't going out, it certainly wasn't shining bright.  Some students suggested that we light is again, while others suggested that we just give it a little more time.

This year,  I am fortunate to have a third of my class from last year for a second year in a row.  If you were in contact with me at all last year you'll know while I taught the most incredible children it was an extremely challenging year for me. Many struggled to shine in ways that I normally see in a grade one classroom.

As we watched the menorah candle try to burn more brightly I asked my students to be patient.  It was clear that the candle had not actually burnt out, but it was also obvious that is was not shining as brightly as the other candle.  We needed to be patient.

This patience reminded me so much of my year last year, and the changes I'm seeing in my students this year.  Last year it was tough for many to shine brightly amongst some of the needs and challenges in my room .  Many candles, while lit, were not as bright as would be expected.  Yet despite all the needs and challenges my students and I were struggling with, my students were in fact developing their own brightness.

As we watched the  slightly burning candle a little longer (and I'm sure we were all praying for it to stay lit), all of a sudden the tiny flame shot up into a full sized brightly burning flame.

As I reflect on the year I am having this year (which is so different than the year I had last year) many of the students I am teaching for a second year remind me so much of that little Hanukkah candle.  These students are  shining brightly.  They have stepped into leadership roles that would make anyone proud.  They are confident with themselves as learners and are willing to take risks.  They are finding their place in their learning journey. They are shining lights!

Last year I worried so much about so many of them yet I never gave up on any of them a lot like what happened with our little Hanukkah candle.  The little candle reminded me that I can't rush my students and I need to accept them as who they are.  It reminded me that I need to be patient and supportive and that I need to be the champion for my students.  It reminded me that despite challenging situations good things can and do happen.  It reminded me of how lucky I truly am to see these children blossoming as strongly as they are.

We have a lot to celebrate.

Wishing you a Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas or what every holiday you celebrate at this time of the year.  My 2015 bring you peace, joy, and happiness.

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