In my classes, we celebrate birthdays with a class birthday book. Each student writes a page to the birthday boy or girl, and my requirement is that they include at least two compliments or words of encouragement for their friend. These are simple books - nothing fancy - simply a stack of pages stapled together. Friends write and illustrate whatever is on their hearts, and I write the last page of every book.
Being that we're not in school over the summer, half birthdays were celebrated today - along with a few belated late-December birthdays and the early-January birthdays. All told, I got to celebrate about fifteen birthdays among my four classes. In one class alone, we had eight birthdays.
The class with eight birthdays is my most challenging class. It has the most students, and only one of them is a girl. It is also the last class of the day, so the kids are getting squirmy. It is full of energy and the volume is generally loud or louder. They are also at an incredibly excitable age, so the second anyone gets an idea, they share it with everyone around them...and that generally prompts more sharing. In a creative class, this is both wonderful and maddening.
But, today, I had the priveledge of setting aside my lesson plan and just focusing on praising and encouraging them for 50 minutes...and giving them the time to do the same. As I reflected on each of the eight birthday kids, I thought over where they were when I met them, and where they are at today. I took the time to acknowledge their growth and maturation, and simply savored my favorite things about each child.
In the busyness of trying to get through a lesson or finish a project, it is all too easy to become hurried, tasky and frustrated. When we slow down and appreciate each person and the journey of learning and growing, it's so much sweeter.
I've always done these books as a gift to the kids, but today they really spoke to me. My kids are pretty awesome. All unique, all writing on the pages that are my life.
And to think.... I get paid to do this! In cold hard cash and countless hugs, drawings and notes.