Great song right? Especially for students and teachers as they celebrate the finale of yet another fast school year. Looking back at class photos from the beginning of the year really reminds us of how young our students (children) were when they first stepped through the doorway in September, and how rapidly they have grown and changed within the 10 months following. That growth isn’t just about maturing faces and a few extra inches on their frames – growth has occurred on the inside as well.
Dig deep enough and you’ll observe that growth.
If you are an educator, a parent, a coach, or anyone with children in your life, now is the perfect opportunity to carve out some time for reflection – it’s like the New Year’s Eve of school! Take a moment or two before family vacations commence, before driving here, there, and everywhere for soccer, baseball and dance, or before sending your kids off to camp, and ask your children how they have grown this year, both outwardly and more importantly, inwardly.
We spend a whole year setting goals both academically and personally; now is the time to celebrate the accomplishment of these very goals.
This week, I am embracing the celebration within my own classroom. I am savouring each moment that I have left with my Grade 4 students before letting them go. Although they are not my “own” kids growing up, I feel like I have had a part in it.
Every year brings with it, its own set of joys; this year is no exception. This week we have so much to celebrate.
When I measure success in a school year, I measure it through my students’ words, through their character and emotions towards themselves and others, through their feedback; I measure it through the appearance of values, self-worth, and the level of self-reflection apparent, and finally, I measure success through academic progress.
Academics do not come last on the list due to their value, but as a direct reflection of how they change, based on the progress of the proceeding parts of that list. You see, I have noticed, particularly this year, a direct correlation between well-being and academic achievement. When individuals feel good about themselves, when they feel safe in their environments, when they take control of their own destiny and realize their unique gifts and potential, when kids have coping skills that are meaningful and accessible, and most importantly, when they exhibit self love – they succeed. The grades go up and so does their self-worth. I have witnessed this progression tremendously this year. I always say – the proof is in the pudding.
I am so proud of my class of 2015/2016. From day one together in September, they have entered our learning space with open minds and open hearts, and have worked on their internal growth at a speed faster than I can say for most adults!
They became expert meditators who did not sway from their focus regardless of ringing phones, loud outdoor play through the windows, or other school distractions. Those same students spoke their morning mantras with conviction as they peered at their own reflections in their affirmation mirrors. My students took great pride in accessing the compassion corner, or the breathing ball when they determined the need for a ‘breather’ or some time for self-regulation. Their words and actions were expressed with love, tolerance, compassion, and they looked outside the needs of their own and engaged in projects of service for others. They modelled mindfulness practices to their Grade 1 reading buddies with pride. My students filled their agendas, privacy folders, and lockers with inspirational quotes and positive affirmations under their own accord.
We laughed, we sometimes cried, we talked – a lot, we shared in community, and we reflected on our triumphs and on our challenges. We supported one another.
Students made gains by building self-confidence, and standing up for themselves, or by sharing feelings with their parents’ in regards to their high demands, for the first time in their lives, and beamed at the positive response returned by their caregivers.
A moment to cherish happened just this week when we plopped down in the middle of the field to rest, and to wait for recess to begin. My students asked in unison – “Ms. Vetere, can we meditate right now?” I said, um sure, but we don’t have our CD. No problem they assured me, and then they took turns reciting the words they had retained and had captured as visual images, from our guided meditation tracks this year. The kids closed their eyes, and meditated in nature. Some even made up new tracks of their own!
I know teachers and students alike, are excited for the arrival of the last day. They are looking forward to some relaxation, some sun, and some fun! But for me, I have experienced those things already with each and every school day that has come and gone (o.k. maybe not the sun part). I feel a little bit sad for the school year to come to a close. I will miss the strong bond and connection of my school family.
I want to thank my students for an incredible year. Thank you for your openness, your eagerness, your light and your love. You have been some of my greatest teachers 🙂
Congratulations everyone and have a magnificent and mindful summer ahead!