Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Classrooms Create Memories for the Heart

We had two wonderful parents come to our faculty meeting today with loving ideas on how to increase the 'specialness' of the Christmas season. As a Catholic school, this idea is not new, but the proposals set forth by these incredible women met with an overall --- fluffy but intermittent silence.

It was awkward but let me be specific, based on my observations and my own feelings: holidays in our classrooms are automatically used by most seasoned teachers as a rare opportunity to be "human with our students" and gather them in, like so many souls, and experience some treasure of humanity: discussion on the birth of Christ, the unique holiday traditions of other cultures, or simply a joyous craft or project which explores our faith.  The classroom is the world, and we are creating citizens of the global environment and I know that for myself and so many others, we painstakingly create "moments of life" or "teachable moments" and build them around significant holidays, like Christmas. I'm certain public school teachers do the same thing. It was a difficult thing to accept: we were being given, no,prescribed, approaches on "what to do" with our students.

One teacher shares her experiences of being a child of immigrants with her students and the traditions from another country infuse her holiday spirit. Another teacher carefully crafts a holiday experience based on Santa, Gold Coins and a Christmas story. Yet another teacher uses the holiday for older students to reflect on the meaning of Christ and Christmas in a deliberate, planned way. SO much is shared within classroom walls that students do not share with their parents. As a Catholic school teacher, I am proud to say that our teachers invest not in money, but in souls, and our approach toward education proves that, everyday, every holiday.

Again, let me emphasize, these parents are incredibly supportive of the school and do so many things for us. We are very grateful. But their offer of providing an "idea" of "what to do" about the holiday season underscores the public ignorance of how complex the classroom is, and how many teachers put their heart, soul, blood and who knows what else, into creating successful, tiny, internal communities of tradition, story, love and memories with their students.

There is no solution for this, at the moment. I am only sharing.
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