Have you ever felt afraid to do something simply because you were alone?
As an only child, that is a familiar concept to me. As a matter of fact, I think one of the many reasons that Lauree and I are such good friends is because we are both only children, and we had one another’s back at several points growing up… and today.
Why go it alone when we can all rely on a little help from our friends?
That is the concept behind a 2008 autumn-themed book written and illustrated by Carin Berger entitled Little Yellow Leaf. As I sit here staring at the last of the autumn leaves to fall, I am drawn to this book even more. As most teachers do, I love autumn, and I was getting bored with the same, old autumn books I had been reading for many years. Little Yellow Leaf is a refreshing, modern look at autumn, with sleek, contemporary collaged illustrations and a powerful message. One frightened, lonely, yellow leaf isn’t quite ready yet to let go of the tree yet. Even as Little Yellow Leaf watches all of the other leaves fall, it still can’t quite muster the courage to let go and trust that everything will be okay. That is, until, Little Yellow Leaf finds a leaf companion with whom to take the plunge. They decide to surrender together, and let’s face it– together is a great way to go. We don’t always have to face our fears alone. Every once in a while, the support and trust of loving others can make a tremendous difference in officially facing the fears, and tackling the fears more permanently.
As teachers, I find we are often isolated behind the walls and doors of our classrooms. It is absolutely essential to establish and maintain active, healthy relationships with other teachers to share and ponder life’s difficulties. In fact, I think we construct knowledge within the context of relationships. We need to pay attention to the textures of quality and trust in relationships in order to allow new knowledge to flourish.
Teachers all agree that affective and relational dimensions should be emphasized in the education of young children. Why don’t we consider our emotions and relationships in the education of every individual, regardless of age? Adolescents and adults all deserve this attention to the emotional, relational qualities of their education, too.
To all of you reading out there—how do you foster and utilize relationships to learn and grow in your own teaching practice? Have there ever been times when you just couldn’t go it alone, yet found solace in the relational support of a colleague? In the same ways you honor the emotions and friendships of your students, how do you respect your own feelings and the relationships in your own life, as an adult and educator?