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Engage learning, Know students

Let your embers shine!

I am fortunate in that I often can sit back during a lesson and observe what my kids are doing. I am incredibly encouraged when I see them working together to solve problems or caring for each other in their conversations. I shared an excerpt from the Coach Carter movie with my home group this week and talked about my greatest fears.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. Coach Carter

Are our students afraid to shine because of the peer group pressure? Do we see embers struggling to ignite because we are afraid to shine our own light onto our students? How often do we as educators dampen enthusiasm because we didn’t plan the lesson to go that way?

At a previous school I had a lad who was skating on thin ice. He was in trouble all the time, didn’t fit the schools “mould” and as a consequence was rebellious. I could see the ember in him was trying to be fanned but his choices were stifling it. One day I had a conversation with him where I told him what I thought of his choices and where they would lead him. He was at a stage where he had to make a significant choice – either a path of personal destruction or a much harder path that would need him to change his life significantly and immediately.He chose the latter and passed his schooling and got into university ( one of the first in his family). I lost touch with him after Year 12 and bumped into him 18 months ago. It was great to see him looking healthy, successful in his job and positive about his future. His ember had develop into a light that shone brighter than I could have imagined.

I think we often place too much importance on the brightness of someone’s light rather than the journey they have travelled. The portrayal of a movie star or sports person as someone who has “made it” seems to dominate our world. Wouldn’t it be great to celebrate those “normal” people whose embers have glowed and then become a raging fire because of the journey they have travelled and the experiences that have shaped them. We all have taught students who amaze us with their talent and then we are further amazed when we hear of the difficulties they have had outside of school.

We are all powerful beyond measure – let’s inspire our students to let their embers shine and help them turn them into raging fires.

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