Magical Lessons from Students

A Little Magic by courosa, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  Photo by  courosa 

The second goal of the 30 Goals Challenge is to write about a magical teaching moment. When I started thinking about this goal a rush of many little faces came to mind. The memories did not come in moments but in students. I thought back to all the students who have painted on the canvas of my career, the canvas that captures the beauty of being a teacher. The students are the ones who have made it magical because they are at the heart of the countless special moments.

I think teaching in itself is magical. It is amazing to be there to see the moments of transformation and gained confidence; when struggles are overcome, connections are made, and the realization of “I can!” hits. It is unbelievably special to witness the growth of students and to join in celebrating their successes in spite of what they once believed or didn’t believe, in spite of the odds or the diagnosis, and in spite of the world handing them more than I can ever imagine. This is the magic of teaching.

A small snapshot of a few of the students who have taught me about the magic of teaching:

  • Claire* was in my Grade 3 classroom and she had Down Syndrome. It was evident that school was certainly not her favourite place. She was withdrawn, disengaged, and she clearly did not feel connected to her classmates nor her learning. I was fearful she was just putting in time coming to school. Claire’s amazing educational assistant and I resolved, “Not good enough. We can do better, we must do better.” Claire taught me the magic of building confidence, becoming an active and contributing member of a community, and aiming high. She called me “Emoo” and I still remember how it felt when her warm hand would reach for mine and she’d look at me and say, “I love you, my Emoo.”

hold on by Close to Home, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic License Photo by  Close to Home 

  • Daniel was a Grade 6 student in my classroom who had seen more in his short life than I could wrap my mind around. He was angry, hurt and headed for trouble. Schoolwork was the furthest thing from his mind, survival was at the forefront. Daniel taught me the magic of being available, nonjudgemental, and taking the time to listen. He showed me that although I could’t fix all the intricacies of his situation (despite staying awake at night desperate to) I could be there for him, believing in him and his future even though he could not. Years later when he was in high school I saw Daniel working at a Tim Horton’s drive-thru. He had a light in his eyes that I always hoped he would find. He was doing great in school, playing on the football team, and above all he was happy. In that moment my eyes filled with tears and my heart filled with hope.

Hope by mischiru, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License Photo by  mischiru 

  • Mark was one of my Grade 4 students. He viewed school as something horrible that was happening to him. Reading and writing were very challenging for Mark and both activities usually resulted in him acting out and being disruptive. Mark definitely did not see himself as a reader nor a writer, and perhaps not even as a learner. He was only 9 years old and he already did not believe in himself. Mark taught me the magic of creating a history of successes no matter how small, and not giving up on someone even when they have given up on themselves. One day as Mark put down his pencil after writing in his journal, he said in utter disbelief, “I wrote this. I actually wrote this myself. I think I am a writer, Miss Emann.”

a valentine for nana by woodleywonderworks, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License Photo by  woodleywonderworks 

I always say I have the best job in the world because the moments are second to none and they have all shaped me as a teacher and as a person. I am grateful to my students and the lessons they continue to teach me about life, being human, and the power of navigating this amazing journey together. Magic.

*All names have been changed

I’d love to know: What magic have your students taught you?