Kim Lynch has attended 19 Middle School conferences, and she is the current president of NCMLE. She opened with a brief talk about making connections with our students.

A number of Schools to Watch were recognized. And then . . . my notes and reflections really began.

Brad Fulton has been in education for more than 30 years. He began with a reading from The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams. HE came to the question the velveteen rabbit asked, “What is real?” He took us to the moment he graduated from college with a degree to teach, and he asked himself, “What is a real teacher?”

When a child loves you for a long long time, then you become real . . .

The skin horse was wise.

A number of parallels between the story of the rabbit’s journey of real love and the journey a teacher goes through were made: being rubbed to the point of losing fur, stitches becoming unsewn, and being held too tight by our students.

There were some stories he told about his personal experiences with children who had been in his charge over the years. He brought his stories to pointing our character in the right direction, that our students need to be taught how to do that over time. They need to see that example set. His talk led to a description of a boy who was unwilling, disinterested, and unaware surrounded by many people who did not understand him all the way on a path he could never have chosen on his own. This last story was of his own journey to becoming a state’s teacher of the year.

He came to the point where the rabbit became real with the help of nursery fairy, hind legs and all. He realized his hind legs were there. His ears were there. A leap! He went sprining around, and then the fairy was gone. He was home at last with the other rabbits.

“What makes us real teachers, is when we are willing to get so close to the hearts of our students that we feel like we can’t breath.”

“We make children grow up, and we are made real in the process, and when you’re real, you don’t mind being hurt.”

We grow along with them, I’d say. His message resonates with me sstill. What do you do to help children grow? How are you becoming more real?

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