As I begin my second year blogging for Heart and Art, I find myself being carried along by the wonderfully-frenetic pace of the fall. Although I have been a teacher for many years now, the speed at which September flies by always manages to surprise me … after a whirlwind of welcoming new families, getting students settled, and creating first language profiles for classes, October is nearly upon us!
New students and new languages have once again added vibrancy to our learning communities. It has been nothing short of joyful to see students using first languages to communicate with each other, to negotiate lessons and learning materials, to express themselves and their knowledge.
In one of my final blog posts last year, Gardens in June, I talked a little about this kind of vibrancy … the end result of centering students’ linguistic repertoires, celebrating students for all that they are and, from those essential foundations, seeing student growth.
I also talked a bit about a nearby community garden …
As I mentioned in that post, I always like looking at that garden as I pass by. And last June as I drove away from the school, I approached that familiar intersection where the garden sits and took one final look. The leaves and plants had gained ground, stretching over the soil in green clumps. I knew something interesting was sure to be growing, but couldn’t yet tell what.
Over the summer the garden slipped from my thoughts completely. I did not think of it again until a couple of weeks ago, as I made my way to the school for my first visit of the new school year. Pre-occupied with to-do lists and deadlines, I rounded the corner and saw a flash of brilliant yellow, nearly a block away.
A row of towering sunflowers greeted me as I approached the intersection. It was a perfect image, really. Standing at attention, strong and sturdy, these uniquely beautiful plants were what had taken root from those tiny beginnings. Now they stretched to the sky, golden orbs mirroring the countenance and motion of the sun.
This year I am looking forward to new growth and new adventures … the language curriculum and what it means for multilingual language learners, finding ways to centre and affirm all students’ languages and identities, and creating safe spaces where everyone feels welcome.
Dedicated educators always rise to the challenges of any given year, giving their best for students no matter the circumstances. This year will be no different. And through it all, as we tirelessly support student belonging and growth, I’m going to keep the hopeful image of those sunflowers close.