I should start by mentioning that while I'm loving my new position, I do find it a little lonely compared with last year. At my home school, when I'm there, I work in an office by myself. Being in different schools throughout the week means I'm interacting with a lot of people, but I see the same people only on a semi-regular basis: lots of colleagues, but few friends.
Add to that the long drives and a good number of nights alone in hotels, and it's quite different than being in dynamic classes with your kids every day, or sharing lunch with your office of seven other zany science teachers!
(Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining - just reflecting on the difference. The position also brings with it a number of independent projects that fit my interests, and quite a bit of freedom to approach things in the ways that work best for me, something that wouldn't always be possible if I wasn't working on my own.)
I've particularly missed the connections with my students - checking in to see how they're doing, having conversations about mutual interests, or being able to see their talents develop over time. I assumed that similar types of connections weren't really possible when you don't interact with the same people every day.
Which made this morning all the more wonderful.
I was in a secondary school, waiting in the main office for the administrator to become available. One of the students at the school - whom I had never seen before - complimented me on my dress.
|Flowers on my dress today|
"I like the flowers on it," she said.
"Thanks - I like them, too," I replied. "I like that they're a little bit darker than you'd expect from flowers. Not so 'flowery.'"
"They remind me of the flowers I sketch."
"Do you draw?"
"I do. Will you be here for a few minutes? Do you want to see my sketchbook?"
She then disappeared to her locker, only to return a couple of minutes later with a pair of well-worn sketchbooks. We sat together, side by side, and she told me about her sketches - her inspirations, and how long it took her to complete them - as I flipped through the pages.
I pointed out my favourite, a stylized profile of a butterfly, and shared that I wished I could be as good at drawing as she is.
It was only a few minutes, but it was a lovely conversation - a tiny little personal connection - that completely made my day. I don't know what made her want to reach out, but I am grateful that she did, and I hope she got what she seeking from the conversation too (encouragement? feedback? self-validation?).
It reminded me that though classrooms are natural places to reach out and relate to each other, these connections can happen anywhere. It takes just a few minutes to engage someone in a genuine conversation, and that might be all it takes to make that person feel valued, or even just to make them smile.
A kind word, or a simple compliment, can go a long way toward welcoming or connecting with someone in our schools. How can we make sure we don't lose sight of this in the busy-ness that is everyday life?