A drop in the bucket
Over the past two months here in Vermont we’ve witnessed the annual ritual of attaching buckets to maple trees to collect the sap that starts running when the nights are cold and the days are warm. At first, the spout that is drilled into the trees only diverts one drop at a time. And walking through the silent woods one can sometimes hear a steady drip-drip into the empty buckets. But soon buckets are brimming with sap that is emptied and eventually makes its way to a sugar house. There, the slow process of boiling creates steam and anticipation. Magically, like alchemy, the sap transforms into dark golden syrup: rich, sweet, sublime.
There is no doubt that education is hard work and at times it can feel like just a drop in the bucket. We have probably all asked ourselves at some point: Am I really making a difference? The long hours and thankless tasks can feel anonymous or even pointless. But then we have a breakthrough with a struggling student, share tears of joy with a colleague, or open a note from a grateful parent. Like the sap dripping into a bucket, each small interaction with our students and our colleagues makes a difference. We know from research into student well-being that just one positive relationship with a caring adult at school can dramatically improve student engagement and social-emotional well-being. And, like boiling the sap in a little Vermont sugar house, those moments of growth and collaboration aggregate and sweeten over time. At the intersection of compassion and intellect, we see our students and colleagues for who they are and what they truly can do, and we recognize the difference we are making.
Jon Nordmeyer, WIDA International Programs director