Stargazing (A Brainstorm on Watching Children Grow Up)

A group of

A group of students looking out on a Waimea meadow.

Ok. ok. I am writing. This is a purely life-update-y get-stuff-on-paper post. I’m a little more than delayed. With Monday being Martin Luther King Jr. Day, then I got a horrible cold from students while on a speech tournament… things just got lost.

I also got to be a part of an amazing #educolor twitter chat today, which you can read more about here.

SO… things are good. No really. My friend Shuhei asked what was new with me and… I don’t have much to report. Things are good! Chaperoning the speech team was a blast! Things are generally nice and quiet.

OH!


So, my students, their speech coach, and I went Stargazing while we were in Kohala. It was absolutely gorgeous. I’m not a particular outdoorsy person (while I love hiking, I’ve never been camping), so I have very little context what it was like to be in rural anywhere, much less Hawai‘i.

It was… breathtaking. Even remembering it, I am nearly speechless. It was like looking up in a star-dome at a museum, but knowing that it’s completely real, having everything twinkle and fill the sky with a vividness never imagined is surreal. I looked up at what felt like millions of stars, and the students and I were quiet. They self-implemented a five minute silence rule, but they were quiet and contemplative for at least ten.

After, I was standing in the freezing cold with Bill, their coach and a 27-year teaching veteran. We watched the kids laugh and joke and talk about stars. They had just a complete joy in each other. In the brief time they had known me, they had made me feel like I was part of their family, like they genuinely liked me being around.

Bill looked at me and said, “This? This is why I’m still doing it.”

I looked at their backs while they were quietly looking at the stars, and completely understood what he meant. It’s easy, when looking up into the great oblivion, to perhaps feel lost. To think about what we’ve lost and where we stand in that loss, or what we are seeking and what are place in the world is. It’s beautiful, yes, but also perhaps a little terrifying. What happens now? What will this be in five years? Ten?

I looked at my kids looking at the stars and I just… knew. This was right. This was lasting. I was filled with such a sense of peace and contentment. I loved getting to just be around, watch them learn stuff, learn stuff with them and from them, talk story and just enjoy seeing them grow up.

I think beyond the whole idea of feeling good about ~sharing knowledge~ with kids, we forget to see one of the most basic and grace-filled things we have as educators: we get to see children become adults. We are witness to and take part in the actual creation of human minds. We get to watch them change and form and reform and fail and find so much beauty and life. We get to see them discover. We get to see them empowered. Hopefully, we get to help them do it.

Things, as they stand now, are right where they need to be in this moment. I am 27 and consistently on the precipice of something new and everything is in flux always. Except that it’s not. The instability itself, the moment we were in right then and even now are what stays. The stars I saw that night may grow or die out or change position in location from where I stand, but that’s okay. Things will move, but those stars were right where they needed to be for my students and I to just love them and spend some time finding joy in each other.

We are the same. Things may will change, but all we can ask is to find the peace and contentment to see how we are affecting this moment. Right now– and likely for a while– I am a teacher. I am a guide. I am (hopefully) a friend. Right now, I am finding joy with kiddos, and it’s exactly where I need to be.

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