My family and I decorated our Christmas tree recently and despite the difficulty of convincing a 15 yr old to put down his phone and countering his arguments of disrupting his "weekend vibe" (essentially, listening to music, playing video games, and keeping a high maintenance girlfriend at bay) we kept our family tradition alive.
We have several boxes of ornaments and as our family gets...older...shall we say, the growing challenge is which ornaments we leave off. My typical solution is to buy a bigger and fatter tree. More ornaments, more tree. That suggestion is usually met with, "that tree is ridiculously big" to "do I need to remind of the green scrapes on the ceiling?" from my more reasonable and much wiser wife.
The traditional soundtrack of Burl Ives and Lena Horne propelled our decorating efforts as I paused occasionally to review the memories I was placing on our Grand Fir. As I went along, I began to think about how many different contributors we've had to our family tree. It's fun to watch the tree get 'built up' over the evening as the anticipation of the "big lighting" when it is finished.
There were ornaments that reminded me of family trips, special moments, and ones of our former pets that made me choke up here and there. There were many though, that were gifts from friends and family near and far. The wooden carving from Israel, hand-painted ones from various locales. Ones that looked good to somebody. The beautiful, thoughtful, goofy, and sometime bizarre all make it to the tree. I'll leave one of our ornaments in the box before I pack away one that was given to us. Even the way too heavy ones.
The completed tree is always beautiful and intriguing to look at. It never looks the same from year to year.
I started to think about how my students are similar to our Christmas tree. I get a new batch of students every year. Fresh trees, if you will. Over the course of our ten months together, I get a chance to add ornaments of learning to their tree. Some of the things taught will remain on display, while some will get put away.
The hard part is giving each of these kids a chance to find an 'ornament' that they are proud of. Something (a paper, a project) they want to display (share) or (topic) explore further. I know that everything that we do over the course of a school year won't be included in a child's tree. Not everything we do get them excited about learning, but I'm not the only one contributing to their learning. Their 'trees' get built up by uncountable influences as they move through life.
I just hope that some of what we do in Room 216 has value for them, so that they want to take it out of the box and make the world better place to look at.
Thanks for Reading and Happy New Year.
Follow me on Twitter @YourKidsTeacher