This morning, before the dawn, I had a rare opportunity to sit under the stars. I was restless, it was very early and I knew that the decision to rise before the sun may cost me later in the day. After firing up the Keurig, I sat on my porch wrapped in a discarded winter jacket.
It was brisk and I had forgotten how the predawn stars were bright markers in the sky. I quickly identified the common shapes of long ago constellations lessons. Those stars were bright; I knew they were present as soon as I gazed up. However, as I looked out sipping my coffee, other stars began to appear. They were dim at first and if I had been in a hurry, I would have probably overlooked their presence. The longer I lingered, the more each unique one came into view.
I began to think about how many other times I missed what was in front of me. As a teacher beginning a new semester, I am reflecting on my practice as a practioner. How many times have I identified those bright stars (students) right away? They are usually the ones who answer often, make eye contact or offer ideas quickly. They are easy to spot. Perhaps I have overlooked a valuable lesson; it’s easy to teach to those who burn bright but more challenging to discover those who are hidden.
We need our bright stars to give direction, to lead and hold the shape of the classroom; however, those stars far from view are no less important. It’s our job as teachers to make time to seek out the stars and encourage each to burn bright in our classroom constellation.
Dr. Tiffany Boury is an assistant professor of education. Her research interests are in the field of international education and mentor teachers. She is co-founder of Franciscan University’s ELISA program in Gaming, Austria.