In 2002, I was given the opportunity of a lifetime. I was blessed beyond all measure. Transylvania University’s Education Program placed me in Jana Callahan’s kindergarten classroom for my student teaching experience. I was to spend seven hours per day for an entire semester learning from one of the greatest teachers of all time. I didn’t even know how lucky I was.
I’ve been in education for ten years now. I can honestly say, Jana is one of the best teachers I’ve ever seen in action. She taught me so many things about the art of teaching, I can’t even begin to write about all of them, but here’s the one that I remember most clearly and think of most often.
I was trying to get 25 five year olds to line up for lunch – no small task. Just imagine trying to herd cats!
“Boys and girls, I can’t take you into the hallway like this. You’re not in a straight line. You are too noisy. You’re not following the rules. This just won’t work.”
Simple enough, right? I’ve heard teachers make similar statements 1000 times over.
That afternoon, Jana said to me in her gentle, sweet way, “Katie, if you want them to be perfect, tell them they are. Simply say, ‘Look at my perfect line. I love how you’re all quiet and facing this way. You are the most wonderful bunch. I can’t wait to take you into the hallway and show you off.'” – the words of a master.
I can’t tell you how many times in the last ten years I’ve lined up a rowdy group with this one little trick. (and trust me, there have been some rowdy ones!)
But often I’ve taken it a step further with people in my life (usually children but not always). I tell people what I think they are, what I think they can be, and hope they will see themselves through my eyes.
Is it possible? Could we really change how people feel about themselves and one another just by following Jana’s simple, sweet wisdom? Could we tell each other that we are more powerful, more intelligent, more kind, gentler, stronger, wiser, or more peaceful? By simply seeing what isn’t there yet, but could be, could we make the world what we hope it will be?
Jana, I believe we can. Thank you, my sweet friend, for the love and wisdom you shared with me. Thank you for using your own trick on me (don’t think I didn’t figure it out!)
Jana Callahan suffered a brain aneurysm on Friday morning. She is in critical condition at UK Hospital. Please send powerful and unceasing prayers for her full recovery.