Well, the Boston 2013 Worlds proved to be quite an experience for Miss P and her fellow dancers. I have to admit that I was extremely hesitant to actually have her participate in the competition. After her first IDTANA- New England region Oireachtas she literally devoted every wish and her attention to going back and recalling at the next IDTANA- New England region Oireachtas. I didn’t know how she would handle the intensity of dancing and competing on the Worlds arena. Would it be too much pressure? Would she not enjoy herself? Would it be too much for an 8-year-old to contemplate? The teams were beautiful on stage. Their grace and talent leaped off the stage. As they walked on stage single file, I could see Miss P and she was smiling. Later on after I met up with her, she told me that as they kept dancing all the dancers were smiling at each other. A true testament that they were all having fun, without stress and full of joy.
Working with children can be a balancing act. Who am I kidding? It is a balancing act. When I was an educator before I had my own children, I focused on the teacher I wanted to be and not be and based my instruction and attitude on my memories. I remembered the teachers I loved and the teachers I disliked and modeled myself after the ones that made positive impacts on my life. Every single student in my class was important and I made sure that they knew it. After I had my own children, my theory and practice on teaching changed. I didn’t think about the children first. I thought about their parents. Now, being a parent myself, when I dropped a little shy Miss P off for the first time in preschool it made such a remarkable impression on me. I realized for the first time, that someone else other than me could impact her life. I prayed these people who had her attention and safety would know how special she was. How she was extremely shy at first and took every single thing to heart. How she was so special because I never knew I could even have her. How praise could lift her and criticism could crush her. Would they know how she was my heart living outside of my body and it could be damaged? Years later being an educator with children of my own, as my students walked into my class each morning, I looked at them with different eyes. I saw their parents in them and knew they were thinking the same thing of me when their children entered my classroom. Would I see how important they were? Would I see their innate potential? Would I be careful with my words when critique was absolutely necessary?
When I was getting my Masters, one professor said something in lecture that was probably the only valuable thing I learned. He didn’t say these exact words, but they are pretty close.
“When each kid walks into your class, picture them with a glass jar of gold coins. It is your job to add to the coins, with praise, careful critique and guidance. If your students leave each day with less gold coins and you haven’t added to the jar, you failed them.” HOLY S*&*&^*. But he was right.
So as Miss P sat crouched with her fellow dancers on the floor of the giant auditorium waiting for the numbers of recalls to begin, I thought of that one lecture. Would they be able to handle what would come next as little kids no older than 10? All holding hands, all innocent with hope in their eyes. Parents were sitting a few rows back wishing as hard as they were. They did not get a recall. But that wasn’t the true lesson in this. Without an adult close by to handle the disappointment or relief for some, they hugged each other. Lifted each other. Supported each other. That one moment in time they gave their peers more gold coins in their glass jars. How unbelievably proud I was of them.
Later in the day I asked Miss P how she was and if she was ok. She looked at me and said, ” Mom, I get to say I danced on the World’s Stage. I am good.”
And there you go. Gold coins runneth over.