…or a big tree in a small forest?
Recently I spoke at our year end farewell celebration. We gifted our grade 6 grads with a small white spruce. As I stood before our students and their families I used the tree as an analogy. It wasn’t so long ago when they were a small tree and St. Elizabeth School was their big forest. But over the course of eight years they had grown, become leaders and made a difference for themselves and others. They were now the large trees and our school had become their safe and familiar forest. I told our students that their small forest would always be here for them to visit but it was time for them to uproot and leave. In doing so, they would once again become the small tree in the forest of life. I assured them that this was ok because change allowed for growth and it is only when we are challenged that we grow the most. As this group of students prepared to leave, another group returned…
Four past St.Elizabeth students walked out the doors of their high school for the last time, and returned, in their graduation gowns, to St.Elizabeth School, their first school. They walked the halls and relished the memories. They hugged Mrs. Cameron, their first teacher and couldn’t stop commenting about how small everything seemed. We couldn’t help noticing how grown up the girls had become. We were proud of them! As they were leaving their small forest, Tori turned to me and said, “You know Mr. C, I still have my tree and it’s taller than me!”
These recent experiences got me thinking… am I a small tree in a big forest or a big tree in a small forest? Which is better? Well, if I think of my school, I’d have to say I’m a pretty old, experienced, tree in a small forest. I’ve taught at St.Elizabeth School for 19 years. Is my forest too small? Is it stopping me from growing? Perhaps it had for a while. However, when I started to grow my PLN beyond my school and branched out to connect, I once again felt like a very small tree. I was being challenged, learning and and growing. Becoming an Apple Distinguished Educator in 2013 and travelling to Austin, Texas to work with some of the most innovative educators in the world was an awe inspiring experience. I felt dwarfed, over shadowed and in awe of the amazing things teachers were doing with their students in the classroom. Becoming connected on Twitter allows me to share, learn and grow at a rate I never dreamed possible. Being a SMART Exemplary Educator and a Google Educator has also opened more doors for learning and growing. I also seek opportunities to attend and present at conferences through out the world. It is in these places where I feel like a small tree in a large forest. But I always return to St. Elizabeth School, my little forest, but a big one to many.
So… which are you?