It was nice to have a long weekend during the middle of January. Even though we came back to work yesterday, it was without students, and sometimes those days can be supremely rewarding: lots of work done, the chance to talk with colleagues, an actual opportunity to go out and grab something for lunch. I know, it's the little things.
That said, my weekend could best be described as "uneven." There were plenty of good parts - time spent with friends & the kids' friends, skating lessons and hoops for the kids, celebrating an old friends' birthday Saturday night. Then, within about 10 hours on Sunday, I learned of my grandfather's passing, as well as having my car die out on me with the temperature hovering on the south side of 0 degrees.
The car is fixed ($850 later, and probably worthy of it's own post), and the temps will inevitably creep up, but what's irrecoverable is my grandpa won't be around anymore.
In the grand scheme of things, 84 is a pretty good shift - a full life lived, full of memories, family, and friends. In 84 years, a person comes in contact with many people, impacts many people's lives, and has opportunities to change and grow. It's this last aspect that I find myself thinking about today. And it's this concept of growth and change that I find myself relating to the students I teach.
All too often, we can be tempted to feel as though a student "is who they are," that what we see is, essentially, what we are going to get. I do not doubt that in many ways, there is truth to this way of thinking. Genetics plays a huge role; we are determined in many ways from the get-go. But I also know this...people continually grow, evolve, change, and advance throughout the course of their lives. Through the many stories my mom and grandma have told me over the years, my grandpa wasn't always the nicest or most available father/husband. Someone who was maybe too devoted to work, to wanting things perfect around the house, who may have been distant, and who may have even drank too much.
I never met that man.
The man I knew as my grandfather was warm, kind, gentle, and generous. The man I knew told me stories about the world, how he grew up, what he'd learned, and what he still didn't know. The man I knew always had an ear to listen to my hopes, dreams, fears and goals. I played my first round of golf with him, when I was seven. Couple that with my own amazing dad's love of the game, and it's become a lifelong sport I enjoy with family and friends. Just by watching my grandpa, I could see just how effective and powerful it can be to simply listen to people, or how far a simple 'hello, how are you?' can go. My grandpa always made time for me, whether I was six years old and coming over for a sleepover, or when I was twenty-one, flying down to Ft. Myers for spring break. I always have and will continue to love him very much. I miss him already.
I write about this because I need to remember this in my students - that they too are always changing and growing. Things we see in September may not be the same things we see now in January, and that may change again by May.
Lfe is indeed a journey, and more than anything, I know my students will always need me to have that ear for listening, that smile for welcoming, the understanding for comforting, and the greeting for assuring them that no matter what season they're going through, I'm right here for them.