There are times when words escape me. Times when I witness selfish actions or hear cruel words and wonder why some people choose to do what they do or say what they say. Times when I shake my head and think, “Really?”
There are also times when I am moved by the kindness of the human spirit. Times when I witness quiet acts of generosity or moments of spontaneous tenderness. Times when I hear words of encouragement or words of incredible grace.
At this festive time of the year, I will counter the ignorance and cruelty of some, with as much compassion and generosity as I can muster. After all, Robert Ingersoll reminds us, “We rise by lifting others.”
Lift. Rise. Love.
I look forward to the holiday break for many reasons. Time with family. Great food. A mental break from work. And yet one of my favourite reasons is the extended opportunity to curl up with a good book.
Where did this inclination come from? My childhood, I’m sure.
Would finding the time to read have occurred to me if it wasn’t something my family modelled? Perhaps. But to be sure, watching those around me read, and receiving books as gifts, persuaded me as well.
Why not give a little encouragement this Christmas? Spend time in the light of the Christmas tree, reading. Give books as gifts.
Though they might not be the immediate favourite for some family members, they are sure to have lasting appeal.
“No matter where life takes you, you’re never alone with a book, which becomes a tutor, a wit, a mind-sharpener, a soulmate, a performer, a sage, a verbal bouquet for a loved one. Books are borrowed minds, and because they capture the soul of a people, they explore and celebrate all it means to be human. Long live their indelible magic.” (Diane Ackerman in A Velocity of Being)
Books. The best gift ever.
“Keep them within reach, always. They contain nothing less than the entire world. Opulent. Staggering. Rich beyond your imagining.” (Dani Shapiro in Velocity of Being)
Over the Christmas break, I plan to watch A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, the new release about Mr. Rogers. A few weeks ago I saw Tom Hanks on Ellen speaking about what it was like to play this iconic role.
While filming, he was often reminded: “slow down.” He was compelled to make his actions more deliberate, to speak considerably slower than his norm, and to spend more time listening.
During the interview, Hanks said this about Mr. Rogers: “He taught me that listening is a million times more important than talking.” He also explained that since playing this role, he now lives by a new acronym: W.A.I.T. which stands for Why am I talking?
Hmmm…. so what about us in our role as teachers?
Do we talk too much? Do we ensure our students have the opportunity to talk, to process, to articulate their thinking? Do we give ample wait time when we ask questions? Do we truly listen to what our students have to say? What about our colleagues?
Dean Jackson has said, “Listening is an art that requires attention over talent, spirit over ego, others over self.” Wise words.
When I am in the classroom, when I am working with teachers, when I am in a social situation, I will try to consider W.A.I.T.. What will I learn from becoming a better listener?