Category Archives: Learning from Students

Fresh Starts

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”  Maria Robinson

I shared this quote with my sixth grade study skills class yesterday.  We talked about the times we wish we could have a “do over” after we make mistakes in our lives whether by our actions or our inactions.  But life is not like a four square game in which we simply call a “do over” and we get to try again.  Instead, we have a choice to make.  Will we ignore our mistake or wallow in guilt?  Or will we choose to take action and make something positive from our mistakes? 

The new year gives us a reason to create a new ending and a time to make new choices about our decisions and directions.  Sometimes our choices have to do with behaviors and other times it is about making different choices in our thinking.  During study skills, students took 30 minutes to organize bookbags, notebooks, lockers, and tablets depending on the choice they made.  Others contemplated ways with me to change negative thinking that increased stress. 

Thirty minutes later, sixth graders reported that they felt a weight had been lifted off their shoulders.  They were pleased with the ability to “start today and create a new ending.”  I am glad that they gained something from the lesson.  I certainly learned from them.  It sometimes takes so little to bring about renewal.  A little time and a little focus on what is positive.

“Silent Night”

I sat in church today and knew that I would have to write a post.  In fact, I was a bit surprised how many times throughout the day that I thought about capturing my thoughts.

It was a small church – one without pretense.  As a part of the service, two young siblings stood with hymnal in hand and sang two verses of “Silent Night.”  They were accompanied simply by a piano.  The eldest reached over to encourage her brother and to move him closer to the microphone.  They were generally on pitch and sang with a sweetness and simplicity that brought me to tears.  Their song touched me almost from the very first measure.  Now, I have heard “Silent Night” sung with full orchestra, in a candlelit sanctuary, and in the midst of a 75 person choir.  But for some reason, this morning’s version without any of the usual trappings made me think, made me focus on the lyrics, and allowed me to worship.

It’s interesting that the simple voice of children can have such an impact.  While I do love harmony, a full orchestra, and the sound of a full choir, today I experienced the beautiful message brought forth by two young children.

Student Council Speeches

I listened to the sixth graders present their speeches for student council. Candidates stood confidently in front of peers and teachers from the past and present – all eagerly awaiting their views on leadership. Carefully crafted and well rehearsed, the speeches truly reflected the author. Though the content was compelling, my thoughts quickly shifted to the effects of this experience. What could have been a platform for self-promotion was instead a powerful community experience.  Students spoke of their love for our school.  They spoke of making a difference and of making Trinity an even better school.  I watched as teachers, staff, administrators, and students applauded the courage, humor, insights, and vision of these young people.  It was a proud moment for me – not that I had anything to do with it.  I was proud of our students, our audience, and a school that values and takes seriously the contributions of its students.