I’m writing this blog post at the end of vacation. We’ve had a wonderful week off. It’s definitely one of the perks of being a teacher. We have time to renew. I can go to bed at 9 p.m. on vacation. I can sleep in. I walk lazily, run around when I want to, read books, play, hang out and snuggle with loved ones.
So, I’m refreshed and taking a breath before I go back tomorrow. Back to craziness, in a good way. Suddenly, though, the pace picks up. I walk in at 8 and am “on” by 8:20. There are 16 different personalities, temperaments, characters, intellects coming at me all at once. Every teacher feels this. You are on, buzzing, managing everything at once all day..
I love it. As I prepare for the craziness, I’m reading my students’ final personal narratives. We’ve been exploring and playing with personal narratives for two months now. My students finally picked one to publish, and they spent the week before vacation refining it–from the big picture to proofreading. I’m reading their narratives now, with refreshed eyes, granted, but they are amazing.
The narratives are not perfect, by any means, but kids, these 10 and 11-year old kids are amazing. They’ve taken in all of the good small moment stories we’ve studied and the modeling and instruction and they’ve produced some really zoomed-in stories. They’ve played with their leads: “It was a warm and humid night at camp” and endings: “And I realized I was the last man standing.” They’ve brought in sensory detail: “Boom, …people scrambling to get into the bright stadium.”
But looking at their final pieces, I realize it’s not just the writing. Kids are amazing. They show perseverance and courage every day. They take risks. Last week, all of grade 5 did a flash mob at our school assembly. They ask for help quietly when they can’t understand what the rest of the class gets so easily. They listen to English and try one- word responses even if they’ve never spoken a word of English until they arrived several weeks ago.
They are so curious and really want to know. They ask questions like: In some countries why do they have beliefs for different genders? How do you know if your beliefs are true? Why are so many people killed because of beliefs?
They get angry at people in books who bully other kids. They clap at endings of great books like Wonder and Alexandria of Africa. They make goals like: I want to make a new friend. And they have future plans like: I want to do something that helps others in the world. My daughter, who is also 10, the other day wanted a blanket so she could give it to the homeless man by the hotel.
They have super tech abilities, like producing i-movies quickly and easily that have all of the effects of a real movie. They post on Twitter, on blogs. They chat, listen to Youtube and create documents, tables and forms on Google Docs.
When I take the time to listen and reflect and relax, what I realize is that kids are amazing. I’ll be back tomorrow to a mad rush to pursue inquiry and investigation. We’ll dig into Math, word study, editing and reading. I’ll push them. I’ll honestly probably have some eye-rolling moments as I deal with their silliness and inability to make it through a day with full attention.
But, right now, I’m breathing in and reflecting. These 10 and 11-year olds are amazing. I want to remember that.