The Amaryllis Moment

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.

IMG_0913

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.

IMG_0915

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 is 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.

IMG_0927

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…

Encourage: A Letter to my Students’ Families

encourage-cut-songs

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the definition of the word encourage is “to make someone more determined, hopeful, or confident.”  This is my goal every year as a teacher – to help my students become more determined, hopeful AND confident.

Students in the third grade start becoming more aware of both their strengths and weaknesses.  Sometimes students will focus on how they do not measure up to their peers in certain areas, rather than being proud of their abilities and doing their best to overcome challenges.  I feel it is all of our jobs as adults to encourage our children to be pleased with who they are – all of their strengths, weaknesses, and everything that makes them a one-of-a-kind human being.

My goal is that every day each student in my classroom will:

  1. gain confidence in their abilities
  2. become more determined to do their best in every task they are presented with
  3. be hopeful that despite challenges, mistakes and the occasional failure, that consistent effort will indeed produce favorable results

Do we as adults always succeed with what we set out to accomplish?  Certainly not.  However, it is how we handle both successes and failures in front of our children and students that just may impact them more than how “good” or “bad” we are at our jobs, hobbies, and everyday responsibilities.

As your child’s teacher I will do my best to encourage your son or daughter throughout the year.  I am determined to do so, confident that I have the skills to do so, and I am hopeful for an INCREDIBLE school year.  Your child deserves it.

Sincerely,

Mr. Smith