Thursday, January 10, 2013

Cinderelly, Cinderelly

Tuesday my first grade students joined me in the return to school after the winter holidays.  It is always an exciting day, buzzing with what everyone got for Christmas, where travels led us, teeth lost, relatives seen, interactive video games conquered, new clothes, new notches in the height chart and of course the sleepy lingerings yearning to go back to bed.    It is a day to get back into a routine and cherish the lull of tired brains before they storm in the next day ready to go.

Little did I know that the day had so much more in store for us.  Every other Tuesday we get a visit from our guidance counselor, a dear friend who fills my students' hearts and souls with lessons on character traits, healthy choices, problem solving strategies, conflict resolution, and SO much more.  I always enjoy her time with our students but I know they enjoy it more.  This particular lesson really hit home, not only with our classroom community, but with content we were learning, the needs that some of the friends in our class have and the lives of the adults who teach these young minds.

She showed this video (it actually played in the VCR) that was the equivalent of a movie with commentary.  It showed snippets from the movie Cinderella that were followed by commentary about the perseverance, commitment, tolerance, and integrity of the heroin of the story, Cinderella.

The lessons focus on her ability to take a negative situation and approach it with a positive attitude.  She  often feels frustrated but takes a deep breath (I have reminded some students of this practice at times this week) and tries to make the best of things.  Despite any set back, she never gives up on her dreams and is ready in aid for anyone who needs help.

The kids were enthralled by the lesson, soaking all of it in and making connections with every lesson.  During the lesson, I was organizing a cabinet and enjoying the familiar lyrics and speaking lines that I learned and enjoyed in my childhood.  But I also observed the children, especially those who lose heart all too easily, enthusiastically engaged.

Later that day, I was with a reading group discussing a book about a farmer who would not give a pear to a poor old man with no money.  I was able to reference my friend's lesson and the kids chimed in with connections to Cinderella without my prompting.  Our curriculum this quarter has us learning about Harriet Tubman.  As we learned about her life and purpose, the kids once again chimed in with "It's like what Ms. Strother said about Cinderella".   Today I was meeting with a different reading group who was reading a non fiction book about achieving your dreams and I'll be darned if it did not come up again in our discussion.  "Cinderella didn't never gave up on her dreams just like the people in this book".  I was too impressed to correct the grammar.

My heart remained warm in the glow of that lesson for many reasons.

I believe at many points in our lives we encounter hard times whether it be heart ache, stress, judgment, bereavement, sickness and anything else that causes our hearts to doubt, our brains to worry, and our souls to question.  The lesson of Cinderella can teach us a lot in a time when we think ourselves long passed fairy tales.  We all have struggles that leave us feeling defeated, hopeless, frustrated, hated, taken advantage of, and quite simply in the dumps.

Yet we have also been in situations where we reach beyond our own struggles to be the better person, help a friend, be the bigger person, keep our chins up, be a positive example for others and keep the faith when times are trying.

I am sure the kids got a lot from the lesson but I wonder if all of my 30 years (give, not take, a few) gave me the benefit of the lesson as well.  These 6 and 7 year olds sponge in all that they learn but as we get older maybe we shy away from childish ways, I mean learning.

Nowadays we always ask our students to make connections with the content they are learning to their own lives, world, and literature.  I wonder how many adults do the same.  My students connected with this lesson on EVERY element possible on their level and yet I also connected on my level.

The students can tell you what they learned from the lesson, apply it to life and literature, and empathize through role play what they would do in similar situations.

So what did I take from my dear friend's lesson?

Help those in need.
Be true to yourself.
Avoid judgment.
Make the best of any situation.
Carry a positive attitude.
Handle situations with respect, both for yourself and those involved.

But most importantly...

"A dream is a wish your heart makes
When you're fast asleep
In dreams you lose your heartaches
Whatever you wish for, you keep
Have faith in your dreams and someday
Your rainbow will come smiling thru
No matter how your heart is grieving
If you keep on believing
the dream that you wish will come true"

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