I love Advent. I like it more than Christmas itself. I love the familiarity of calendars, candles and counting down. I love the traditions of well-worn words becoming somehow fresh as we sing them over again. I love all the different forms of light that spring up, bringing cheer and warmth and beauty to dark nights. I love the yearly retelling of favourite, familiar stories, especially the nativity.
This year, not much has felt familiar or routine in school. When you have a challenging class, with some children who have complex needs, it can be unpredictable. You don’t know what you’re going to be faced with each day which can create anxiety. When ways of working that you believe in don’t seem to be effective, you are reminded that you don’t have all the answers, however long you’ve been teaching. As my wise Head of School said, sometimes you have to go to where the children are first, before you can bring them to where you are.
So it’s been a whole term of waiting and hard work. Building relationships; working out what triggers melt downs and how to get out of them; being consistent with boundaries and expectations; being consistent with a smile and a willingness to listen to the child and take them seriously; creating routines, familiarity, security, trust.
This week, for the first time I have felt all the waiting and working begin to pay off. I still don’t know it all, but I do know a lot more about these thirty-one children. The relationships we have built together are becoming rooted and established and I am beginning to really love them.
And I think of thousands of other teachers across the country, and the world, doing the same thing. Showing up and doing the hard work. No shouting about it, no song and dance, no acclaim. Each of us quietly creating a small glow of light in what can seem like a long season of darkness.
Joy to the world.
Photo Credit: Betsy McIntyre