Last month I returned from Rwanda after two full weeks spent soaking up the incredible and life changing experiences with its beautiful people. I had the privilege of visiting a number of different schools and working with children so eager to participate in simple craft activities.
I worked with children so eager to use every day educational items like scissors. They snipped with purpose and determination. Such simple things brought pure delight. It is hard to believe that in this day and age, these every day items are not in every classroom around the world.
It is hard to describe the feeling of watching children as old as ten and eleven so intent on a task that I would otherwise not even think about. The determination on their faces struck me, so engaged and precise in the most simple of activities. Each so focused, with their pursed lips, their steady gaze and careful snipping. The wonder of childhood opened up and filled the four walls of an empty classroom. A simple task became something entirely different. Triumph was palatable, evident in the beaming smiles and shining eyes.
I stood there in that place and felt the weight of my role.
The significance of it pressed me,
reminding me why I chose this livelihood,
why I love doing what I do.
It brought me fresh perspective.
There is something truly beautiful about opening up a world of possibilities to little people.
Watching them achieve something that they didn't think they could do.
Every day I have the opportunity to inspire learning about life and the world at large,
to take children on a journey of discovery.
This is a privilege.
As teachers we open up possibilities to young people every day.
It is easy in the every day normality of life to forget the power in this.
I was grateful to be reminded that what I do should not be taken for granted,
that what I have to bring can't really be measured this year or next.
The reality of teaching is something much deeper,
it is an intangible impartation that can neither be measured
or even known for years to come.
Yes, results and data often and do measure progress and outcomes week by week,
but the true measure of success is layered deep in the heart and soul.
It is buried deep within these little people and built slowly year after year.
We teach facts and fiction, recite numbers, write stories
and learn a hundred and one things each and every year.
But there is so much learning that can never really be measured.
Rwanda reminded me of that.
How can we measure the wonder of childhood?
Or the delight in simple tasks or the building of self esteem from one day to the next?
What about feelings of success or a renewed belief in oneself?
How can you measure any of that?
As I stood there that day, I was reminded that sometimes our smallest successes will be the most important lessons we ever learn.
Sometimes the smallest things actually turn out to be the biggest things.