I received an amaryllis for Christmas from my father. Since it was winter time I figured it would be a cool experience to have our students watch it grow. After taking the bulb, soil, and plastic pot out of the little cardboard box I set it on my desk for all to see.
Well, we didn’t see much for awhile. But eventually, out of the dirt slowly grew a small, pale stem. I watered the plant according to directions, kept it out of direct sunlight, turned it every so often, but still no flower. Gradually the small green stalk started heading for the ceiling. Some time after that a bud began to form. Then one Monday morning, several weeks after it was planted, a bright red, pink, and white flower welcomed us to school in a glorious way.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of teaching is the “amaryllis moment”. Sure, it is an incredible thing to behold when students are bursting at the seams to answer questions to concepts they only learned days, or even minutes ago. But what is much more amazing and satisfying to both teacher and student is that amaryllis moment – that moment in time when a student who has been struggling with a concept for days, weeks, and perhaps even months finally understands. Finally “gets it”. Finally has conquered the matter that has troubled their brain, their time, and even challenged their self-esteem.
When the amaryllis blossoms it is a sight to behold – like a firework exploding then freezing in time. When children display grit failure after failure, watching the timid or even shocked smiles that spread across their faces and then freezes in that moment of understanding and satisfaction at the realization that they have just overcome that difficult concept – it SO much more amazing than any flower blossoming or firework exploding.
And I’m just the soil in this analogy. Or perhaps the water? Or I suppose the gardener. It is the amaryllis itself that truly has to do all the work. It is the young student who has to block out all of the discouragements and distractions to finally break through the soil and prevail.
The amaryllis moment requires time, patience, endurance, and a brave determination that says, “Yes, I will succeed no matter how long it takes me and no matter how discouraging my failures become.”
CONGRATULATIONS and CREDIT are due to all the kids out there who stick with “it” every day no matter the trial so they can grow – so they can learn, and know more, and be more. And when the next challenge wields its ugly face, they will be prepared to rise even higher than before…