You were born an original. Don’t die a copy.
I’ve just finished my first round of Learning Conferences. Actually, it’s hard for me to believe the summer is already THAT far behind us. I always LOVE this opportunity to sit down with families … to get to know a little more about each of their precious children through THEIR eyes.
The wonderful thing about teaching in a community school is the chance to occasionally begin the year with an already established relationship after teaching many siblings in previous years. Watching these children grow, sometimes out of diapers, and suddenly greet you, one day, with their excited “ready for grade three eyes” is a blessing. I love the new relationships with new families as well … especially when there are younger siblings because, well, the circle begins again!
Every so often, you’ll encounter a child, sitting across from you during Learning Conferences with his or her parents … and a sibling you have been blessed to teach in the past. Their skills aren’t always the same … neither are their personalities. They’re not SUPPOSED to be. Although you can see the “twinkles” BEHIND the eyes, somehow you can ALSO detect the lack of confidence … the belief that they feel “less than” their brother or sister sitting beside them. It doesn’t MATTER to THEM that these siblings are one or two or FOUR years older than they are. OR even that they are different people. At SOME point in their early journey they have deemed themselves LESS than. Maybe they don’t READ as well. Or, maybe they can’t SPELL like their older sibling. MAYBE they don’t think mathematically like the ones they look up to.
It breaks my heart. I get it. We ALL do it. Sometimes it takes us YEARS to figure out that we EACH bring special gifts to the world. As a society we work SO hard to raise our children to be healthy, confident adults and I’m always still SO surprised at how poorly we seem to do despite our best efforts.
How do you explain all this to an EIGHT year old? Well, you can’t, really … not in so many words. You can love them, you can support them, you can help them find their strengths and passions … you can be a cheerleader in their corner. You can invite wonder and curiosity into their lives and you can help them to BELIEVE in THEMSELVES. I want to scoop this child into my arms and say:
“You know what you’re better at than your sister, your brother, your friend, your mom, your dad … your “fill in the blank”?
YOU are better at being YOU!”
This is when the serendipity, (one of my most FAVOURITE words), comes in. Because, on THURSDAY morning … the day I BEGAN my Learning Conferences, one of my amazing twitter PLN members shared one of my most CHERISHED TedTalks:
Thank you Patrick Johner, because your tweet was MEANT to be. It was serendipitous!
Oh, @Patrick_Johner, that’s one of my favourite TedTalks! What an awesome way to end a night with parents!
— Laurie Renton (@RentonL) September 22, 2016
For now, I will do EVERYTHING in my POWER to help EACH of my learners discover their strengths … the unique gifts they bring to the world. I will help them to BELIEVE in themselves. To celebrate their uniqueness and EMBRACE it!
When you dance to your own rhythm,
Life taps its toes to your beat.