Art of Appreciation
Today I experienced the art of appreciation. It arrived most unexpectedly, and from such a range of sources, and all in one day. It’s interesting that I can write on “bucket-fillers” a few days ago and then today I was consistently aware of those people who were “filling” my bucket or those people whose bucket I was able to pour into.
We started back at school today. I must say I did begrudge the start of the term quite a bit this morning. I do love my school and returning to work, but it’s just that I only know of three other schools in the state that had students and staff return today, and so I was in a “need another day” mindset when I went to school.
Arriving at my Year 7 class today I was overwhelmed by my students’ excitement. They were so eager, and I thought it was to enter the classroom. But as I stood beside the door welcoming them individually into the room, the congregation of jumping bodies beside me continued to grow. In the end, I turned to them wondering what was wrong. “Ma’am, I have so much to tell you. I’ve had to wait two whole weeks”. And then as he proceeded to recount rugby injuries, books read and places visited, another student voices above the din, “Ma’am I just want to tell you that I’m so pleased to see you”. Little voices continued the welcome party and I had to usher them off to their seats. After a beginning like this, I had no idea how long it would take them to settle.
But sometimes these little gentlemen just have me in awe. I introduced the concept of diversity, and after brainstorming definitions I asked them what considerations might we need to make when exploring this concept?
The range of responses amazed me: diversity could be suppressed when it clashes with beliefs or values of a ruling person or government, diversity requires people to open their minds and challenge ideas, diversity is the value that multiculturalism is dependent upon and then the one that truly made me wonder, diversity is often rejected or ignored if a person is in a commune or closed community as the fear or change or the unknown holds them from opening up to or accepting the diversity. Wow, how mature were these ideas?
I loved each of these ideas. After the student offered the thought, I would invite them to come out the front and develop the idea with the class and let me learn from them. Just watching their little chests puff up with pride, as they were honoured by their class-mates, was invaluable. Encouraging and modeling appreciation for students and of students is such an art-form and one that can never be underestimated.
But the art form was developed further in the playground and staffroom today. Being on duty and watching a groundsman painting lines on an oval has never been so enthralling. All these gentlemen coming up and saying, “Ma’am do you know what this means? The beginning of the rugby season”. And then the encouragement, “You’ll be at all the games, won’t you?”.
And finally, before you are all sick of my day of appreciations, receiving a formal letter of appreciation from an external professional organization is so lovely. Having a letter, written to my bosses, stating that working with me and working with my students had been inspirational to a highly regarded professional, was just a lovely feature of the day.
I know that I went to school this morning dragging my feet, but I know that the art of appreciation that was demonstrated towards me allowed me to return this afternoon with a little skip in my step.
How can you reflect and develop the art of appreciation wherever you are today?