Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Miracles Happen Every Day

As discussed in a previous post, we have had a lot to celebrate in our school system recently. Successful athletic teams and great musical performances do a lot to boost morale and strengthen a culture that exudes school pride. Indeed, when the sports teams are winning it seems like everything else in the school tends to operate much more smoothly! Although I readily admit there is a lack of empirical evidence available to suggest a lower rate of absenteeism or fewer disciplinary referrals. Yet there is no mistake that everyone seems to feel a lot better about their school when the volleyball and cross country team(s) end the season as the state tournament runner up! These are the kind of successes that we can easily point to that make us feel good. We can see them, touch them, and celebrate when our team wins.  However, I would suggest that there is so much more below the surface to be proud of-successes on a much grander scale that you are in all likelihood blissfully unaware. 

I submit that miracles happen in our classrooms each and every day of the school year. Unfortunately those miracles are often known only to a handful of people. Miracles in that small space of time when a teacher connects with a student in a way that unlocks a great mystery of learning that had; until that very moment seemed insurmountable. Moments when the teacher reaches into their toolbox of strategies and grasps for their very last idea, and it works. It is then; almost as if you can see the barriers to learning fall away with an expression of wonder on both the face of the teacher and the pupil. For some of our learners this may not only be an instance of jubilant satisfaction and revelation, it can bring both the teacher and student to tears. Success!

Freshman English students learning about lyric poetry recently.
Fortunately for me, I oftentimes have a front row seat to bear witness when these moments of success occur. I have observed the high school student who makes a profound statement about the danger of global overpopulation, where they previously may not have grasped the enormity of life outside our community. And I have seen a second grade classroom perform a 'Readers Theatre' where each and every student, regardless of ability has an opportunity to shine. Some of those students, just weeks prior may have read in halting phrases, painstakingly sounding out words that made it all but impossible to understand and follow a main idea. Or how about the student we were so unsure of, who walks across the stage and receives their high school diploma?

We know the miracle that was witnessed is a result of the hard work that is happening between the teacher and the student. The result of painstaking application of time and field tested strategies. Intense remediation, and the practice that happens during classroom instruction. The extra time and effort that the teacher spends with a student before school, after school, or in what we refer to as 'Pirate Time'.

So while we celebrate with great pride all the success that our school district has had this fall, let's not forget where the real magic is happening! At the end of the day, the score that really counts will be the one in the classroom, and I can tell you those scores indicate that we are winning!

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