I just finished reading Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley, and I have to say that this book found it's way into my hands at the perfect time: the beginning of a new school year! I went in to school yesterday for the first time since the beginning of summer recess. As I stepped into my classroom and surveyed the bare walls and the furniture piled in the middle of the room, I smiled to myself. Even though there's A LOT of work to do before our first day with students (August 26), this room is where the magic is going to occur!
One of the first messages I took out of this wonderful book is that it's "important, when you first see magic, to recognize it. You don't often get a second chance." When the fifth graders come to me on that first day of school, I am going to see the magic in their faces and in the way they approach reading and writing, and in the stories they have to share about who they are. I am not going to miss it, because I may not have another opportunity.
Another critical lesson from this book is that "just because a magic is small doesn't mean it is unimportant; even the smallest magic can grow." This advice from Lightbender applies to all of us. A child's magic (whether it's writing, drawing, singing, dancing, smiling, etc.) is critical during fifth grade, and I want every child in my class to grow their magic. And whatever magic a teacher has (listening, reading aloud, teaching a math lesson on fractions, etc.) is important and it can grow (and must!).
As the story progresses, we learn that Micah has inherited his grandfather's magic of tying knots. The concept of knots is an important message for having a successful school year as well. Relationships are critical for each child's success in my classroom. Without those connections, how will learning take place? One of my favorite quotes of the book is very powerful:
"Knots were such a versatile thing really, especially once you started thinking beyond string. They were everywhere you looked and in many places that you didn't, and then there were knots that were completely invisible, like the ones that held families together."
Hopefully, I can develop my magic of tying those invisible knots that hold our classroom community together. It'll take strength and courage, especially since "some of us aren't brave enough to find our specialness" (Grandpa Ephraim). Also, "once in a while, it's good to be ridiculous and amazing."
Finally, Chintzy (the parrot messenger) had great advice for all of us: "Be careful not to let (magic) slip away from you, and you'll always be able to hear the music."
I hope all of you have a wonderful beginning for your school year and remember that magic "is what's inside...the parts of you that are too big to keep just to yourself" (Micah).