“As a philosophy, kintsugi can be seen to have similarities to the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi, an embracing of the flawed or imperfect. This can be seen as a rationale for keeping an object around even after it has broken and as a justification of kintsugi itself, highlighting the cracks and repairs as simply an event in the life of an object rather than allowing its service to end at the time of its damage or breakage.” source: Wikipedia
No one escapes life unbroken. We all come across hardships and tragedies that break something within our soul. Most of the times, when we move on, we carry the scars with us and try to hide them, pretending they’re not there. We feel compelled to act “normal” and “forget” what we went through. And most of the time, we fail!
I am now convinced that this is really what we do wrong: moving on does not mean hiding what we went through as if nothing ever did, but it means embracing our mistakes and scars and experiences as part of who we are. Those scars, when accepted, will define who we are because they are so special and cannot be repeated or recreated ever again. When we accept the beauty of our imperfections, the artful combination of our shortcomings and insecurities will finally stop haunting us and start to become a source of pride and hope.
As a teacher, I strive to teach this philosophy to my kids and live by it every single day. Life becomes much easier when we accept that mistakes are bound to happen, and learning from those mistakes will always make us better people.
Let me explain to you, in a few words, the magic of water…
Water looks so harmless, so calm and is always flexible but never allows outside pressure to change its volume…
Water flows easily, but always leaves its trace along the way, carving the hardest rocks with little fuss…
Water is so engulfing, it can dissolve all kinds of substances, the vile and the most fragrent ones all the same…
Water carries a lot of weight on its surface, it makes things lighter and easier to manage…
Water is best when it is clear, no colors or tastes to limit its influence…
For all this, and much more, my message to teachers all over the world is to simply be like water.. You will have the power to change the world once you understand, and use, the magic of water!
It is not often people understand the fact that getting a degree, finding a job, and building a future does not mean you have the answers to all the questions. It is plainly logical to me that a person is alive only if he learned a bit every day.
In my early education years, once I figured I would irrevocably become a teacher, I came across a quote I really liked and used in my final project:
“He who dares to teach must never cease to learn.” ~ Richard Henry Dann.
Although this may seem odd to you, I never fully understood this until I became a teacher.
The fact that each year, a student(or many) will help you become a better teacher is not an illusion, it’s a fact. There is only one condition for this to work though: you must let them..
Over time, I noticed how stubborn and unyielding teachers may become; they would get “used” to teaching in “their way” so much that they will think it is THE way to teach.. they would even try to convince you to try it, after all it did “work” for them for so many years.. it must be the “right” way..
Teacher all over the world, my message to you (and me ) would be this: Never forget that teaching involves two sides, and to be stuck on your side for so long will compromise your ability to inspire.. isn’t that why we teach in the first place? Inspire?
This year was full of challenges, both on the personal and professional levels, but the most exceptional thing happened: I learnt a few valuable lessons from my students that made it worth while..
I learnt how much my country is important to me, even when i try to deny it, even when i hate it, even when i wish i can leave it… I learnt that from a little grade 6 amazing girl who was syrian and who left school. She said to me before school ended: “You are supposed to endure the bad things in your country. Because it is yours, you are lucky to be home!” I felt humbled and took what she said, carved it into my heart, so that I can always rely on it whenever my country depresses me.. Thank you sweet Mona!
I learnt compassion is ageless.. at a time where my mom was struggling with a respiratory disease that kept her away from us ( and caused my absence from school at times) I was surprised with the reaction of a grade 7 student, who kept asking every day, until one day he told me: “I pray that your mom goes home soon, I can’t imagine my home without mom!” I felt human, and once again humbled by the sweet prayer: it meant so much to the tired, overworked, overdepressed teacher i was back then. I really appreciate it Rachid!
I learnt I am more than just a teacher, to some students I was an example! Students are smarter than you think (beware!) And every once in a while, you’d be surprised by a student who will stand up to you and say: “if that was true, why don’t you do it?” You would feel ashamed because you dared preach what you are not in fact applying.. for that lesson, I am grateful to you Majd..
My discovery of the year is finally this: I am in debt to all of my students, because they helped me become a better teacher- and a better person. As a matter of fact, I highly have a single doubt anymore that teaching is a one way highstreet.. it actually goes both ways!
I love teaching. I love my students. Every one of them! Even the ones I hate, I love! It’s a burden, but it’s true.
Each year, it’s a sense of loss I feel when I say goodbye to my class; and each year, I feel am losing a very important part of me!
I have a theory you see: I am positive that students can sense when they are loved. They respond to that, and the outcome is always amazing!
You feel the sense of accomplishment and triumph each time you play even the tiniest role in modeling a student’s mind and personality, because you know that even as the student is growing up and forgetting about you, he still has that part you gave him, that part of you.
This year’s gifts were sweet, all of them. But there’s always those precious ones that still make me smile whenever I think about them; not the gifts themselves, but the sweet words that went with them:
The note from a grade 5 student, was so sweet it almost made me cry (well my eyes did water up a bit!). He sweetly explained to me how much he loves me, using the terms he had learned in class this year.
Another made me laugh hard (it still does) because it was from a student in grade 8 (unusual I know) who tried to be a poet and said that joy enters his class whenever I did!!!
There’s that girl who wrote me a not saying she loves me as her mother and it feels great! even though she would grow and forget, even though she will not remember my name: I touched her soul!
A card and a small gesture meant the world to me and it came from two people I didn’t even teach!!
I am grateful, proud and happy. I am satisfied. I must have been doing something right to deserve this and it feels great!
It’s not winter anymore.. It’s neither summer. No, it’s the sweet season in between, where the sun is warm but not scorching, where the air is still fresh but the roads are not wet, where the skies are blue but not without the lovely shade of a passing cloud from time to time… That’s about all I like about Spring!
Teachers know quite well how stressful this season is.. Not only do we have the semester tests to prepare then correct, and averages to calculate, but students also become out of control! They think the season is too nice for them to study.. What’s sad is that we share the same feelings but must act as duty demands. That’s one more reason to become stressed out!
Furthermore, the semester break is also not that relaxing.. The Reason: School Trips. The school plans these yearly and we are asked to chaperone students for a long day of watching, scolding, entertaining and pampering… Stress is an understatement here!
For all of this, and more, teachers get the SSS or Spring-Stress-Syndrome. You can notice it easily in their eyes and the way they move.. We become easily emotional over the simplest of things.. We over react when students do something we would have overlooked a month ago.. We exaggerate when we deal with fellow teachers and become extremely sensitive to noise and high voices (except our own!).
Let me tell you how to identify SSS:
-The “Puff” is the easiest of the symptoms: each puff of those is guaranteed to blow off a house!
-The “Eye-rolling” every time we are asked to do something extra: enough already!
– The “Over-bright smiles” to cover up the upcoming or current depression..
– The “I’m tired” phrase that you hear yourself say more than once during the day.. Even if not asked!
To sum up, I feel I’m tired just now when I finished reading what I wrote so I’m going to move to the next task on my list..
Our only consolation: Spring is only three months!
Today was a great day at school. It’s the one day of the year when we take the time to celebrate being teachers, enjoying its rewards and basking in the warmth of gratitude..
This is actually the point: to feel cherished for everything you do, to feel valued and loved..
I remember when we used to wait for this day to give our favorite teacher a carefully chosen, sweetly wrapped gift to let her know how much we loved and cared, how much we appreciated.. It was something we planned eagerly for and we felt great joy reading the faces of our teachers and loving the way we affected them…
Today, I remembered all this when it was my turn to receive the gifts.. I felt saddened that no one takes the time to choose the gift anymore.. the gifts were all lovely, but so impersonal, so… Cold!
A grade six student personalized all his gifts: to each teacher, he chose what he knows she or he would like.. He gave me a necklace because he noticed I like to wear them, gave his English teacher earrings because she likes them.. He even chose a copper oriental vase for his history teacher!
But the greatest gifts any teacher would receive are heartfelt, honest words that can fill your heart with joy ( and your eyes with tears).
A grade five student, a lovely girl who’s new to the school, bought me a gift like her friends, but did not forget to add her personal touch: a sweet handmade card.
These things do affect us teachers, the words, the love, the appreciation.. It truly makes our day! Sometimes, a sweet word is all it takes!
One of my oldest shortcomings of all time is the fact that I can’t tell my own left and right!
I know it’s wrong, stupid and embarrassing but I can’t help it! It is a condition I have ever since I was young, probably the result of being forced to write with my right hand instead of the left hand I used naturally..
Sure, I can use both hands to write now (quite helpful on the board..pretty cool too) but that caused a bigger problem: whenever asked to identify my right hand, people automatically say “the hand you write with” ..quite confusing to me don’t you think?
Anyways, this teacher’s blog entry is not about why I can’t identify my right or left side.. It’s about how this almost caused me to become a laughingstock in my own class!
The lesson was about the parts of the heart and I asked a student to go label it on the board after I drew the diagram. She wrote the answer completely WRONG.. but, being me, I was unable to identify the mistake.. and she was so sure of her answer I was positive she was right and didn’t bother to check..Only one student in the class kept looking at me and “secretly” implying she was wrong..when I ignored her she objected vehemently and said her friend got it all wrong.. I called her to the board and asked her to stand and point out her right hand.. The moment she did I realized she was right and I had to find a way to escape the complete embarrassment I was feeling and hoping it won’t show… Then, I congratulated the girl and explained to the class I did it on purpose: they should always fight for what they know is right and never give up no matter what other people said!
Phew! that was so close! As a teacher, I am glad I had the wit to turn the situation to my favor because if I didn’t, I would have lost all respect I had in my class! Thank God for small blessings..