David began to softly strike his Tlingit drum and a low wave of sound hushed us to silence. While listening to the words and songs of elder/educators Linda, Selina and David I felt overwhelmingly thankful and honoured to hear their stories and advice. Each of the three speakers had a unique voice filled with great amounts of experience, knowledge and passion, yet all three had this humble but powerful presence. They had a way of reaching us new educators by making connections.
I think that is what resonated with me the most; the connectivity. The heartbreaking image of Selina’s older siblings jumping in the air off school grounds, so that they may speak a single word in their own language is connected to David’s description of a people being starving. The images that these stories brought to me just made my heart hurt, and I felt tears stinging my eyes. I do not ever want my family, friends, students, peers, colleagues or anyone to feel that empty void in their lives. Yet, I still see it, that feeling of emptiness…in my students eyes when a school system fails to connect them to their cultural roots. I am committed to doing something about that empty feeling.
Linda gave us a strategy by describing a circle, which I doodled here:
She she instructed us to think of ourselves on one side and others on the other side. By connecting the sides with arrows the image teaches us an important lesson: we can only control what we give and how we receive what is given to us. This is not only an important strategy to relieve stress, but is also a reminder as to the importance of how we give and receive. What does this mean to me as a teacher? It speaks to me about really thinking about how I communicate with students, parents and the community. It also means really listening and educating myself in my student’s lives so that I can make these necessary connections.
As David reminds us, everything is connected. Being a human is all about the connections we make. Moreover, as humans we crave connections. The youngest of our society deserve to feel these connections; to know that they are cared for and loved. As a new teacher with so much to learn, and so many more mistakes to make, I am so grateful for the reminder of one mistake that I must never make: I must never forget to love my students.