Celebrating Connections

celebrate link upThanks to  Ruth Ayers and all who contribute to #celebratelu. I am thankful for the opportunity to think back on the week and find the gems worth holding on to.

1. I’m celebrating connections with my “family” community. I am lucky to have three kids who have friends that feel comfortable being in our house.   Last night neighbor kids, old friends of our oldest, my daughter and a few of her friends hung out and talked — about sports, local gossip, and college aspirations. We’ve known some of these kids since they were in preschool. They are like an extended family. They walk in, often without knocking, because they know they are always invited.

2. I’m celebrating connections with former students. Being a fifth grade teacher, I’m the end of the road for elementary school. I always wonder what happens in their lives.  Friday, a young man walked up to me, looked me in the eye, shook my hand, and asked me how I was doing. He told me his plans of going on to college and perhaps medical school. This may not seem earth shattering, but this young man was a struggling elementary student. He had significant learning disabilities and was multi-lingual, the combination of which made understanding English extremely difficult. I was beyond impressed, not just for his academic goals but for his poise and presence. Everything and anything is possible, don’t count anyone out.

3. I’m celebrating connections to my students through writing.  Reading their memoirs yesterday I was struck by my students’ resilience and honesty.  Many told of times when they had disappointed someone, got angry with a friend, or got in trouble. Quite a few recounted getting in trouble with a teacher.

One of my new students (he’s been with me for three weeks) wrote how a teacher mistakenly thought he was doing something wrong; how teachers don’t understand him and  “that’s why I hate school.” Never would have known this if we didn’t write.

Another wrote of a time he had to do homework, but he didn’t want to because his whole family was doing something else, so he didn’t. He then told how the teacher had screamed at him and he cried as his mom watched. A bit melodramatic perhaps, but his perspective is his reality.

Another told the tale of her dad’s struggle with alcoholism. This isn’t easy stuff.

They felt safe enough to share. I am honored, and I celebrate the power of writing.

4. I am celebrating connections with my colleagues.  I work with amazing teachers. We are a team and work to meet the needs of our students daily on all grade levels. I am proud to be a member of this group.  Today, I want to thank Dayna Wells (@daywells) who taught a social studies lesson to my students. WOW. I learned so much that I will attempt to capture in another post. I celebrate Dayna for her curiosity, energy and risk taking moves that has allowed her to bring this work to me and my students.

5. I am celebrating connections with you all who contribute to #celebratelu. Reading your posts is a joy. I always smile and sometimes cry.  Happy Saturday.

10 thoughts on “Celebrating Connections

  1. I love your celebration about student writing. That’s one of my favorite things about teaching writing…hearing what they don’t say. I am always surprised and awed and impressed at their wisdom and willingness to put it all out there. Those memoirs sound amazing! 🙂

  2. I love the connections of your many celebrations this week, especially the former student who once struggled. We really do not know, as we look at your learners, who will overcome adversity and embrace learning. I too often wish I could follow their paths after they leave me, or at least get an update every few years!

  3. All of us replying seem to love that you are celebrating these wonderful connections, Julieanne. I love hearing about the former student coming back to see you. I was just friended by a former student this past week, in his 30’s now, & ‘found’ me, wanted to know how the school & I were doing, etc. It was wonderful to hear all about him. I taught the 6, 7, 8 group for a long time. Like you, they leave, & some we never see again. Also love hearing about your student writing-it does mean they feel safe in your classroom. What powerful gifts you’re giving! Best wishes with the new student-maybe since he shared he is hopeful with you & your class?

  4. Connections are the best part of teaching, aren’t they. My favorite part is all you are learning about your students as you read their memoirs. It never fails to amaze me what students will share when they write. But their writing always helps me understand them just a bit better.

  5. Celebrating connections seem to be the theme in many of the celebration posts this morning! What a great way to begin the weekend! Celebrating family, students–both current and former–and great colleagues; could we ask for more?

  6. This is such a wonderful celebration post. It is so powerful to see former students. I have a myriad of experiences with former students visiting. Some are coming back to check in to let me know they are thinking of going back to school after not finishing high school. Some are in the middle of college. Some are doing specific skills training. All of them are still connected to us at their Elementary school somehow and that means everything. I love how frank your students are with you in their writing. You have obviously made writing important and safe for them.

  7. I loved your connection to your writing student,Julieanne – it’s powerful to have that insight into a student’s life and his thinking. It can really transform they way we interact and teach them. Thanks for sharing your connections today!

  8. So many connection celebrations! Isn’t it amazing how much we learn from our students through their writing and from sharing with colleagues? Have a great week!

  9. The theme of connections running through your celebration shows how much people and community matter in our lives. We may never know for sure how much we influence the people in different circles, therefore it’s extra important to make sure that we treat people with respect and kindness. You clearly consider it, as evidenced by having young people at your home, former students approaching you, current students trusting you, colleagues coming over, and many people celebrating together with you on Saturdays. Happy Sunday!

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