The evening before leaving for vacation, my daughter unknowingly dropped her iPhone into the freshly falling snow near a friend’s driveway. For those of you who weren’t hit by the “snowpocalypse” we endured here in New England, this may not sound like a big deal, but trust me, a needle in a haystack would have been easier to find. That phone was as good as gone.

Break Out the Shovels

A late-night shoe shuffle through the snow, followed by 14 days of call-and-listen, shoveling, and metal detector schemes turned up nothing. A devastated teenager managed to enjoy her vacation sans iPhone but we were starting to lose hope. Until day 15. We got a call from our friends that the thaw had revealed the iPhone, and it was intact. We arrived at the house, charger in hand. Five adults, three teenagers, and one younger sister gathered to watch in suspense until, sure enough, the elusive little white apple appeared on the iPhone and it began to charge. A few minutes later, it was clear the phone was fully functional, and my daughter’s social life was restored.

A Winter Parable

I tell this story to remind educators of two things:

  1. We can never give up on a student – no student, ever. Every child can learn, and it’s our roles as teachers to make sure learning happens. It’s obvious you’ve given up when you just decide to stop teaching someone, but there are less noticeable ways of conceding defeat. Offering an easier assignment to a struggling student instead of differentiating your instruction is one. Giving a normally good student an ‘A’ to save face when they did ‘C’ work is another.
  2. Sometimes it just takes time. No matter how many shovels we took to the snowbank, it was only the thaw that revealed the phone. In fact, it was packed in about 2 inches of snow in front of the actual mound of snow. It had been driven over countless times in the 15 days. We were literally standing on top of it while we blindly stabbed our shovels into the snow. In the end, it wasn’t our effort that brought the iPhone to light, it was time (and some sunshine). Never give up, but also know that it’s not your job to impart all the learning before Friday at 3pm. Some things take time to reveal themselves. Make time your friend, not your enemy.
Happy Holidays

As you curl up by the fire this holiday break, I would encourage you to think upon these two things. Maybe you should even take the unintentional cue from my daughter and “misplace” your phone for a few days. A new year is on the horizon, with so many opportunities to inspire our students. Hopefully as we step into 2020, it will be with the determination to bring curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking to every lesson. Just remember that all growth takes time, an no student journey is ever quite the same.

Happy Holidays from everyone at the VAEI!
*Editor’s Note: the following content was drawn from an old holiday post by Terra Tarango.