Sunday, July 2, 2017

Matryoshka Dolls

Reflecting on the Symbolism in Wolf by Wolf

Dear Readers,

A friend recently suggested this book to me. I highly recommend it for middle school students. 

The setting is during Hitler's reign and the young girl in the story, Yael, was held in a concentration camp. During her imprisonment, she was given a set of matryoshka dolls by a woman she refers to as Babushka. When it was time for her escape, Yael took only the smallest doll (it is referred to as the "pea" in the story) for it was the easiest to hide. Babushka referred to the pea as the child who was kept safe by the other dolls.

One of my most treasured possessions is a set of matryoshka dolls that a friend brought back from the Ukraine. She (The doll, but my friend is beautiful as well!) is absolutely beautiful. The colors, the details and the faces. 

Although she sits on my bookcase in my living room and I look at her every day, I had not opened her in a while. Reading about the dolls made me take her apart. It got me to thinking about the smallest doll kept safe and secure inside all the others.

I think of this small doll as our students. As our students get older, they face more life experiences, some much harder and more traumatic than others. Our students come to school with "baggage" we know absolutely nothing about.....until we ask. 

I pride myself on forming relationships, making connections and building a safe and secure learning environment. It is essential we get to know our students on every level in order to best meet their needs. 

I think of our students nestled inside our schools, much like the "pea" or the "seed" tucked inside the outer dolls. My hope is that our students feel just as safe and secure in their learning environments.

One of my favorite children's authors of all time is Patricia Polacco. If you are not familiar with her as an author, she writes from her own personal experiences. 

Her Grandma was very important to her. In the book, Thunder Cake, she helped Patrica to overcome her fear of thunder by baking a cake. Grandma used strategies to help her feel brave. By the end of the story, Patricia was no longer afraid of thunder and saw herself in a different light.

We can learn so much from this story. We can be the adult who calms our students' fears. We can be the adult who allows them to see how brave they are. We can be the adult who changes their mindset. We can be the adult to guide them into the world and help them realize it is not as scary as it may seem.

May you all be a guiding light for your students! May all our students feel safe, secure and loved in their learning environments!