I recently shared this article with a new teacher in our building because of the powerful message of mentorship. As an instructional guide, I am thankful to be a part of a garden full of beautiful marigolds dedicated to leading our building in a positive direction. But as I reflected on the message of the article...the ecologist in me came out. I began to wonder what marigolds need to come back full of cheer and strength every year.
Marigolds love the sun! Put them in full sun and you will watch them thrive! Where does this sunshine come from for the marigold teachers? Certainly, the laughter and lightbulb moments within their classroom bring a warm glow to every day. But I believe it is the nearly electric enthusiasm of young teachers that brings the bright touch of summer.
I noticed this revitalizing effect in myself recently. A few young teachers joined our ranks and have breathed a little extra air back into my lungs. From a hip, first-year teacher who came in with memes for classroom expectations and bathroom passes depicting himself dabbing. To another young teacher planning an entire unit around culturally relevant book using movies and character analysis to pull kids deeper into a story, they have already experienced. From the most genuine, young teacher who transformed her room into a cozy, welcoming space that screams "Connect with me, I am here for you!" To the Harry Potter obsessed teacher who is using her favorite book to connect with students by transforming her room into a magical wizarding world complete with a sorting hat and quidditch pitch. Or how about the second-year teacher who spends mornings playing basketball with kids, but also does things like invite me to co-teach with him to best meet individual learning needs. Our building has some serious sunshine. Spending time with each of these young teachers has brought back the best of my past experiences and knowledge. Suddenly, I am challenging myself to plan a bit more relevantly. Turn up the music. Throw in a GIF for could measure and teach with a fresh perspective.
Don't get me wrong. I have always loved teaching. In fact, I am the first to say that if I didn't get to teach a group of kids then I would not do this Instructional Guide gig. It is my lifeblood. I have also always sought to provide the best learning environment possible for my students, but it is the energy that's changed. The soft glow I receive through my daily interactions with students has been intensified as more sunshine pushes into my approach to planning and school. I am challenged to see things through different, younger eyes and I am loving it.
You see, Marigolds need the sunshine just as much as young teachers need their marigolds. Because without access to sunshine, both the flower and the teacher will begin to wilt under the weight of the shade. The shade that tries to convince you that sunshine is not a renewable resource, but only accessible in a limited supply. Being overworked and under-recognized can give way to dark disillusionment in the teaching world. This is why the marigolds need young teachers who are so full of hope, passion, and a "changer of worlds" perspective. Because we, the veterans, need to remember that bright light within ourselves that helped us choose a profession where the measure of accomplishment is the success of others. So from teachers who have been surviving on a soft glow, I want to say thank you to the bringers of sunshine. Your presence matters and makes a difference in the ecosystem of our schools!