As the year draws to a close, I started thinking about all of the students who have arrived day after day in my classroom, ready to learn and to grow. They are people about whom I care deeply. I study their expressions, looking for the moments of joy and discovery as well as of uncertainty, confusion and doubt. I just spent nine months thinking about them each day, so I thought I would put together a list of summer wishes and goals for them.
First is always that they would have lots of unstructured and peaceful time, enough of it that they would get bored. I am a great believer in the power of the mind and heart to fill the spaces that open up when we are bored. Today’s students run from activity to activity, most of them with the goal of enriching their lives. While ballet and soccer, piano and Little League are all wonderful, they often endlessly fill a child’s world. Never mind the intrusions of television and computers. Our students have no time where there is only silence.
A silent place can be a hard place to be, but it can also over time become a rich and creative place. Imaginations come alive in those spaces. So I would wish Boredom and Quiet for all of my students. What they fill it with could change their day or their life.
Next is more time surrounded by nature. Take a walk in the woods or by the river, which in Philadelphia is easy to do. Again, I would caution against filling the time with activities. Don’t just be outside to play a game or jump in the pool. Take time to listen to the birds; watch the wind in the grass. Be still for awhile in the midst of the natural world around you.
Remember to take time to read, at least 5-15 minutes every day. Read anything and everything: newspapers and magazines, blogs and books, fiction and nonfiction. Keep words around you in the summer to stimulate your thinking and your imagination.
And then, just have times of fun. Go to an amusement park; play miniature golf to be silly, rather than win; splash someone in the pool; eat water ice. Find anything that will create the freedom to laugh, the space to be away from all of the “Shoulds” in our lives. Rest and relax. The school year is long and demanding. Take time to breathe deeply and enjoy the moment. Ignore the cell phone; forget to check Facebook. Just find a space to have fun!
And for the teachers who will read this, let us remember to do the same for ourselves. May we each find spaces of quiet; moments in nature and time to read and times of simple fun! We deserve them, and our students will be all the better if we take them.
Happy Summer to all! It is time to lay down the dozens of balls that we juggle and refresh our hearts and minds!
Or at least catch our breathe between now and ISTE. Anyone who is going to be there, let me know. Send me a tweet @hadleyjf or leave a comment. It will be a great time.