I have this pink schlumbergera plant. You may have heard it commonly referred to as the ‘Christmas cactus’. The funny thing about mine is that it blooms in June. I know they are supposed to be in full splendour in the winter – that’s how it got its common name. But this one is on its own time schedule. How that happened, I have no idea.
I brought it home one spring and I’ve had it so long I can’t remember from where. We’ve had some ups and downs together. It took me a long while to figure out what kind of sun and watering schedule it needed to thrive. I had to do some research and tap on the expertise of my fellow plant friends for ideas on how to get it to bloom at all! It took a lot more effort than my pothos plants that seem to grow in spite of my steep learning curve as an indoor gardener.
As we just completed report card writing season, I think a lot about this little schlumbergera and not just because it always tends to bloom near my kitchen table around the time I am sitting and writing reports. Rather, I think about the journey we’ve gone through together. Much like the students we work with, some of them will ‘bloom’ at different times than others. Some of them might require extra time and effort; they might need us to tap on our professional colleagues for advice and resources that will help us to grow in our own professional learning. They might work really hard at different stages of growth and some of that work isn’t always visible in a final product, but in small progressive steps toward their goals.
It’s hard to convey all of this in a single document, like a report card or a final mark. It can be challenging to find the right words that honour a child’s learning journey and leave space to communicate how proud I am when they ‘bloom’. I spend a lot of time thinking about how to give them the message that shows I genuinely care about who they are becoming and how hard they’ve worked to get there.
That’s one of the beautiful things about teaching. Learning together is really a process of getting to know students and helping them to know themselves. And in this way, we also learn about our own selves as educators; we learn and grow right alongside them.
I’ve gone through quite a few schlumbergera plants over the years. They typically go on to live their best lives at my mom’s house where they thrive and in her front window; growing and blooming all at the right time – but this little pink one is staying right here in my own window. We’ve worked hard together to find our own rhythm and while we aren’t doing things at all the “right” times, we’ve found a way to bloom that works for us.