Mirrors

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I just finished reading Kwame Alexander’s Solo and first I need to say this book needs to be added to all classroom libraries. A touching story full of heart I highly recommend this story.

One line stuck out to me and really just hit me in the heart.

“Why do we need mirrors when we can see the reflection of our goodness in the way others react to us?”

This is just one line out of a goldmine of beautifully crafted words but I am going to have to read it again with my journal in hand to really reflect on every gem. But this mirrors line just shouted out at me.

As teachers we often set these behaviour guidelines in our classrooms at the start of the year. We get this whole list together and consequences for not following what the class agrees on and then by November we are usually piecing some entirely different but more realistic set of expectations together.

I come back to this line though and think to myself, “Can this not just be the standard?” Can we not ask our students how are your actions reflected in others reactions to you?

I like to think I am a pretty fair teacher and kind person but I do not know if I would always pass the reflection test. I wonder if we all were worried more about how our actions reflected goodness than say making people laugh, or impressing colleagues or being the “tough” teacher our classroom cultures would improve?

I did my student teaching in a school that had 2 BLA classes. Kids that struggled with their behaviours to a degree that occasionally put their safety or the safety of others in jeopardy. I was blessed to learn from the Admin of that school and the Grade 2-3 BLA teacher specifically that what we do as a teacher and the reflection of our goodness in our students eyes can have a lasting impact.

In my short (8years) teaching history there is still not a moment that stands out more than Friendship Keepers in Mrs.K’s class. Just a break down. Students had envelopes on the ledge that served as a mail box. Each week Mrs.K would have her students write a note of appreciation to someone else in the class. She gave them sentence starters, Thank you…for…, I like it when…. I appreciated…. and so on. For these students this served the purpose of working on their social skills but to me that day it served as an example of how much “goodness” can impact individuals. As Mrs.K was reading these adorable statements of kindness she got to a note that she could not read and became emotional. She passed the note off to another teacher in the class who read the statement, “Thank you Mrs.K for helping us learn” such a simple statement but such a reflection of the goodness that filled that classroom. It sticks with me to this day.

From that day forward I have strived to be that teacher for all of my students. I want the reactions of my coworkers, students and extended community to be a reflection of the goodness that I put out into the Universe. As I continue to think about this upcoming school year I hope that I can.

Now go out and buy Solo by Kwame Alexander because it is beautiful and fun and sad and everything a great book needs to be.

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