Kelly Gallagher once said, “You should start each day with beautiful words” and ever since, I have begun each day with my students by reading them a poem, teaching them a “beautiful” word or most recently, engaged in the mindful practice of daily affirmations.
At the start of remote learning, I desperately clung to the words I was saying, hoping that I could live out the affirmations and even more so, I hoped that my students could. Saying affirmations over a Google Meet, unmuted, with lag-time, takes a little bit of the meaningfulness of the experience away, but we continued on.
Some days, I would say the affirmations and would almost beg myself to believe them so that I could positively take on the day. “We can do hard things… Patience melts away obstacles… I believe in myself.”
I said these affirmations and a million more to myself as the Jamboard wouldn’t load, as my computer crashed in the middle of a lesson, as my students couldn’t access the link I put in the chat box. I said them over and over to stop the tears of frustration from coming.
And then, we moved to hybrid learning. I could exhale. I could say these beautiful words with my students. I could feel them more genuinely and so could they.
Today, we said 3 affirmations together and I felt them so wholeheartedly, I took a moment to take it in. I looked up at my class and asked them what they thought, “I am always moving forward” means?
My student, who is the old soul of my class, gave her interpretation of the affirmation by saying, “I think that ‘I am always moving forward’ means that even though it might not seem like it, we are never the same. Every day we change. We might do the same things, but we aren’t the same. We moved forward, even if it isn’t noticeable.”
I could hardly believe her interpretation of the affirmation when another student said, “It means we don’t walk backwards.” I smiled- and said, “Well yes, quite literally, we do not walk backwards.”
Truthfully, I connected to both interpretations. Sometimes in life our growth isn’t noticeable and we show ourselves so little grace that we feel stuck. On some days we have to make a conscious decision to take an actual step forward. Both feel true to me. Both feel like places I’ve been. Both make me feel so grateful to be with my students in person.