Today’s example of embracing beauty comes from Blythe, a dedicated kindergarten teacher from Canyon, Texas.
I have been contemplating your request for things of beauty. I did not want to send you a picture of a sunset (though I find that to be of great beauty) but instead a story of grit, determination and beauty.
This is the story of one of my sweet littles. I will call him “Cal”.
Cal came into my class with a bright personality, a twin brother, and ears that could barely hear. He wore powerful hearing aids, and I had a special microphone that I wore that would take my voice directly to his ears.
Still, he struggled with learning.
It was my great dilemma as a teacher: how do I teach someone to read when language is made up of sounds, and he cannot hear the sounds?
My heart ached for my sweet Call, because he wanted to learn to read so badly. He would sigh as he realized he had gotten something wrong, and sometimes his resigned face would send me from the room in tears.
Over time, my dilemma went from how do I teach him to read to how do I teach him to not give up? How do I teach him to keep trying when it is going to take him 75% more effort than every one else to do things that come easy for others? How do I teach him to love learning and to fight for it?
And then I remembered sitting in the office of one of the university teachers who inspired me to be a teacher. She was reteaching me a lesson that I had not understood from class, a lesson that I still did not understand, and when I was ready to give up, she stopped me, and said “Blythe, your job is to show up ready to learn and my job is to teach you. If you do not understand it the way I am teaching, it is my job to find a way to teach you so that you DO understand. Your job is to show up, my job is to teach. You showed up, so I will find a way, and I will keep at it until you understand.”
Your job is to show up, my job is to teach. You showed up, so I will find a way, and I will keep at it until you understand.
This teacher changed the way I looked at learning. Suddenly things seemed possible with a good teacher and lots of determination. This is what I wanted my sweet Cal to understand, so I would research and try new things, and if it did not work I would look for something else. I was determined, and I wanted him to know it.
Around spring break and I was starting to become discouraged again. But then it happened.
Beauty came on a Thursday afternoon.
Cal was practicing sight words on my iPad when he walked over with the most delightful grin on his face. “Look, Miss Chapman! I wrote a sentence!”
I looked at the iPad to see “I see a cat” written in kindergarten script.
“I see a cat.” It is a deceptively simple sentence until you know that the word cat was not on any papers in our room, nor was it posted anywhere on the walls. Cal had sounded out the word cat with no help. He had put together that sounds go with letters, and letters make words and words hold meaning.
The smile on his sweet face is something I will always remember. He fought for that moment, and it was pure joy and beauty (with some tears mixed in). I don’t know if Cal will remember writing “cat” that day, but I will always hold that memory close. I was reminded that faithfulness and determination are built upon daily. I was reminded that the fight to learn is worth it.
Beauty comes in many forms, and on that day it was a six year old boy whose ears did not work, but who figured out how to write words!
Nate’s note: Blythe sent me this story as an example of the beauty of a child overcoming challenges to learn, but I would add that it’s also a story of the beauty of a persistent and invested educator, determined that all of the children in her care will succeed in learning.
Stay tuned for more examples of embracing beauty, and please share these posts with your friends each day this month! Remember, this blog doesn’t have any advertising, and I make no money off of getting hits on stories. I just want to counteract the ugliness we see each day with small and huge examples of the beauty that exists in this world!
Also, if you have an example of beauty that you want to share, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be happy to include it!