Not so long ago, when I was still doing in-person professional development, I attended a welcome back-to-school meeting that touched my heart. Though school will be different this year, and reopening may not include opening our physical doors (let’s hope we don’t rush into that) the message of that meeting is evergreen. At the start of the meeting, the principal gave each teacher the following poem with a carefully wrapped seashell. This note was attached.
You are probably wondering why you have been given a seashell. It is a gift to you to help you reflect on another gift you are about to receive–your students. Let’s take a few minutes to consider what the shell can tell us about them.
(Adapted from Mary Madden’s ‘Gifts’)
Maybe your shell is fragile, delicate, and easily broken.
So are some of your students, so we shall handle
them kindly and with care.
Maybe your shell looks beautiful.
Each student in your class has a special beauty.
Discover it and help others to notice it and appreciate it.
Maybe you noticed that your shell has pieces chipped away or broken off.
Some students have had difficult experiences that have chipped away their
positive self-image and broken their spirit. We help to rebuild their self-image
and rekindle their enthusiasm.
The shell you have in your hand is unique.
It was carried to shore by the ocean just for you.
What will you do with it now that it is yours?
Each student in your class is unique, too.
Each one is in your hands now.
What will you do with them, now that they are yours?
I hope this school year starts on a healthy, happy note for each and every one of you.