From the classroom...

Rites of Passage…

This time of year is bittersweet. As teachers we are amazed and overjoyed to see so much growth in the children we have shepherded through the year, but we are exhausted from the storm of energy we have poured into our work. We are happy to see the “graduating” classes filled with dreams and purpose as they charge ahead into bright shiny futures, but we are sad to imagine all the faces we will miss as they move away from the shelter of our classrooms and community…

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Our school has a long standing tradition of our graduating class creating art work inspired by famous paintings – this year the students were outstanding in their attention to detail and layering of colours… I have never seen so many incredible pieces from one class.

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I am sad to see these children leave us, although I am thrilled and excited for them to find their way and make their mark on our new world. They have skills and talents that I didn’t even dream of at the same young age!

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We are all on a journey, and we all have different gifts to help make our way. This is the best reason I can think of for making the journey in community…

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Today I had the opportunity to meet and share with a group of educators who are working to build a community where sharing our gifts and taking risks is celebrated. This marks a subtle change in the way we think and work… As teachers we are starting to see the world as a network of supporters beyond our classroom door…

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I listened today to the personal narrative of a young woman who is battling a chronic illness with grace and humour – her journey intersected with mine for a moment and put my own small struggles into perspective. Her story is a testament to finding the bright side – perspective – and learning to live with changes beyond our control…

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I think of the children who have started out on their learning journeys in our care. Have we given them the skills they need to be resilient in the bigger world? Will they be able to find perspective with that inner compass that guides us all?

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I ended my day thinking about the uniqueness of us all, and the way we navigate the madness if our daily lives in harmony with each other, and I remembered these words of wisdom- often recited to me throughout my childhood by mother – who saw their value many years before I understood them on my own:

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“Desiderata”

“Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.”

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“Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.”

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“Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.”

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“Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be critical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.”

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“Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.”

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“You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”

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“Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.”
(Max Ehrmann, 1927)

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So where does that leave us? We have worked all year (and longer) to create a community of learners where all participants are able to risk learning and growing together. Now we part ways in this beautiful world, striving to be happy in the noisy confusion of life…

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These children are ready to leave us and make their own adventures as they move forward into the universe…

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This is the best advice we can give: Be gentle, be genuine, be kind. What could be more meaningful?

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If we have done our jobs as teachers and counselors well, then every step on the new journey for our newest “graduates” will be a testament to the foundations we have built for them… Watching them go may be bitter sweet, but it is a joy to see them set out on their own with so much hope and future – and they mark this rite of passage as they go…

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