Kind, Empathetic, Generous

Last week, as a part of Teacher Appreciation, we had our second annual “Take a break” opportunity where staff were given an opportunity to invite a friend to go out to lunch and then district administrators and coaches filled in for them. Not only is it nice for staff to enjoy a relaxing lunch off campus, but it’s a great way for district administrators to be reminded of the hard work that goes into supporting students every day in our schools.

This year, I filled in as a teacher in a preschool classroom. This wasn’t exactly how it played out. The paraprofessional blew me away with the way she seamlessly filled in for the teacher. She gracefully moved 10 little ones through routines and minilessons while I supported an individual student who needed additional support. For the sake of privacy, we will call this student, Eddie. Eddie is a student who is adjusting to the routines of school and is working on how to be less rowdy with friends.

Eddie was not interested in time on the carpet, and he was given a couple of choices for what he could do instead. He chose to go sit at a desk that different math manipulatives tucked away on the inside. As we sat there together, playing a math game that Eddie made up, we practiced using our inside voices. It was clear that he wanted to be the teacher, and he wanted me to be the student.

His kindness and gentle approach touched my heart. When I would get a question right, he would say, “Wow, good job, you’re so smart.” When I would (purposely) get something wrong to see if he would catch it, he would kindly tell me to try again.

When the paraprofessional got students into a line to wash their hands for snack time, it was clear that Eddie still wanted to do what he wanted to do: math. I explained to him that I was feeling sad because we were going to miss snack time if we kept playing the math. He took a moment to think about that, kindly patted me on the knee and said, “It’s ok.” So sweet, and also funny, haha, like, “I’m so sorry you are sad. But we have math work to do.”

He finally came around on snack time and once we both had gotten our hands washed and were settled at the table, he looked at his goldfish baggie and juice box and then looked over at me, seeing that I didn’t have any. Reflecting upon this and my feigned enthusiasm for snack time, without a word, he gently ripped his bag of goldfish crackers perfectly in half and slide them over to me. “Here you go. For you.”

Shew. I get emotional just thinking about it. It is so easy to focus on areas where learners struggle, but my goodness, look at where they shine.

Eddie is smart, kind, empathetic, and generous.

The world would be changed if more of us embodied these qualities. The world would be changed if we could celebrate others more often for these qualities. The world would be more wholesome.

Thank you, Eddie, for touching my heart.

I left with a mission to make school a place where we nurture kindness, empathy, and generosity. Our students and staff deserve it.

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