The holidays present opportunities to reflect, appreciate, and share the blessings we enjoy with those around us. Despite the challenges and disruptions we have faced in the past year, there remains much to celebrate. In fact, it may be even more important now to pause and celebrate the experiences, gifts, and successes that have been a part of our work and lives.
Of course, we typically focus on others and their meaning for and impact on us. These are important reflections. Yet, this is also a time to pause and consider what we need to celebrate in light of our commitment and the impact we have had in the past year.
At first, it may be a challenge to discern the differences we have made. So much of our energy has been allocated to making things work that we might ignore the importance and impact we are making. Let’s pause for a moment and consider some of these successes and reasons to celebrate as we near the end of this unusual calendar year. Here a few examples to get us started:
- Our growth. We may not have chosen the lessons and timing, but each of us has grown as we faced new and often unanticipated challenges. In many ways, growth was the key to surviving this year.
- Our patience. We have stayed committed and kept trying even when the path forward was not clear and was subject to change mid-journey. We have been there for students when they have been confused, disappointed, and disoriented.
- Our collaboration. In times of stability and predictability we might think that we can make it on our own. Yet, the past months have taught us that finding others to join us on our journey not only makes the load lighter and our work more successful, it can be a crucial source of encouragement and hope.
- Our flexibility. It seems that each day and week bring new challenges and distractions. Our commitment to find work-arounds, accommodations, and novel solutions has provided crucial stability for learners and new discoveries about ourselves and our ability to adapt.
- Our learning. In most years our focus is on stimulating, nurturing, and guiding the learning of our students. This year has been as much about our learning as our students’ learning. New tools, new processes, and new complexities have all demanded that we learn along with our students. In fact, at times learning may have seemed as much a joint effort as an expert-novice relationship.
- Our courage. Despite the uncertainty and unpredictability present throughout this year, we have moved forward, persisted, and remained engaged, even at times when it felt that no one fully appreciated or understood what we were experiencing. It has been said that courage is not the absence of fear, it is the ability to move forward despite it.
- Our impact. We cannot know exactly how our efforts this year will influence the future lives of our students. We never really do. However, we know that during times of uncertainty, doubt, challenge, and difficulty, the opportunity to influence those around us is often the greatest. The concern and caring we show, the support we provide, and the commitment we demonstrate are being noticed. These are times when the difference we make for our students will be remembered. These are the experiences upon which they will rely when they are called to support, care, and commit on behalf of others. We are models for them to emulate.
As we make our way through what may feel like a dark period, it is worth noting that lights seem brighter and are visible from a longer distance when it is darkest. The light we provide for our students shines brighter and travels further than we might imagine or appreciate. The work we are doing and the support we are providing truly is deserving of celebration.