Thursday, October 26, 2017

A Little Light

In my classroom, I have a very special student who I will call Caroline. She is special because each day she spreads a light that burns brightly in our classroom.

As I stand at the door each morning to greet my students, Caroline comes into our class with a huge smile and ready to learn attitude. Her smile is contagious and reminds me of the smile I need to be bringing to life each day.

What has made Caroline so special is the way she treats the students in our classroom. She is kind to all of our students and loved by all, but she has been especially kind hearted to our students who have started the year nervous or worried or have had some challenges being ready for school.

This past week Caroline has really stood out in our room and has given me some reflection on the impact we can have on others each day.

I have a student who has struggled with positive behavior and focusing during our lessons. This week he found a new friend in Caroline. She took him under her wing and made sure he felt included in the group, during lessons, lunch, and recess. Caroline then introduced him to her friends, giving him more champions in our classroom.

During one of our number lessons this week he took a seat next to her on the carpet. He had some trouble writing one of our two digit numbers, so I headed over to give him some assistance, but before I could get to him I saw Caroline take her marker and write out the number on his paper. He then copied over her number with his marker. This is something I often do when a child needs a model for writing. She didn’t think twice about helping him out. She then whispered, “Now try again” and he started to get busy on the rest of his work. By the end of the lesson he yelled out, “I did it.” Holding his paper as high as he could. His smile was all over his face, but boy did that smile shine in his eyes. We all started singing our class song to him which includes the words "On Fire." He certainly was on fire, burning a light brightly for all of us to see.

Yesterday as I started our mini lesson in reading workshop, I noticed he patted Caroline on the back. He had the sweetest smile on his face and she gave him her biggest grin. Then he intently looked back at me to start the lesson, showing he was ready to learn.

I have noticed a complete change in this little boy. He has come into the classroom more focused, he has gained motivation, made amazing choices, and has started asking questions during our lessons to gain better understanding.

Now as a kindergarten teacher, I do work hard to set up our classroom in a way that will bring success to students and confidence in who they are, but this change in attitude is more than what I have brought to the table. This change in attitude is also due to a student like Caroline seeking the good in others and showing others they matter.

Today I contacted Caroline’s mother to let her know what a light she is to all who meet her, I let her know how she helps students in our class shine by being a joy to each of them. Her mother let me know Caroline has talked about loving others in our classroom in many of their conversations. She explained that it made her heart so happy to see her daughter living out the values they uphold in their family.

This past week has been an eye opener for me. Our students have the power to make such an impact in the lives of others just by being who they are. They can make other’s feel good about themselves, lead them to seek out their best, and most of all help others shine.

As educators, we have to model this light each day in the things we say, do, and the things we choose not to do, so we can be our best. In modeling who we want our students to be, we help our students become lights in our world.

Thank you Caroline for being a light for my students and myself, shining your light in our classroom so we can all learn to burn more brightly.

Thank you for reminding me of my purpose each day, to make small impacts, which hopefully lead to great changes.

Alana Stanton

Alana Stanton is a kindergarten and technology specials teacher at Mulberry Elementary in Gwinnett County, Georgia. She has taught several grades over her 14 year career including K-3 literacy special, first grade, second grade, and kindergarten. Alana believes that relationships always come first in the classroom and the classroom should be a place where students thrive academically, socially, and emotionally. She currently writes for her blog, More Than A Lesson where she shares the stories of her classroom and her heart.