I know it has been quite some time since I last posted on my blog. It wasn’t that I had a bad year and wasn’t inspired to write. Sometimes life happens and you can’t find the time to go through the writing process….that is until something truly inspiring happens and you find yourself sitting down on borrowed time to capture the moment.
For me, teaching year 15 approached with many signs pointing to a rough start. Class lists soaring up to 29, a new literacy program featuring an anthology that I can’t say I’m a fan of, technology failures and long lines for support, 90+ degree temps for the first 2 weeks, a new classroom (although the moving angst was offset by the extra size and storage). Somehow, all of that negativity found a way out the window like it always does the moment the kids arrived. It seems when you surround yourself with what really matters, things have a miraculous way of turning around.
This post is not about me turning the start to the year around. It’s not about “my kids”. It’s about someone I am grateful to be surrounded by. It’s about someone who had the power to transform the start to this year. It’s about someone who’s kind and genuine act of caring was so simple and powerful at the same time and I didn’t want it to go unnoticed or unappreciated.
It all started with a text. A good friend of mine, Michelle, also known as my “work wife”, sent me a message about a reluctant writer. This student said repeatedly that he didn’t go anywhere, do anything, or have an idea worth writing about.
We all know that kid. The one looking for an out for writing. The one who is scared to display messy hand writing or poor spelling because it has been stressed to him that the way writing looks matters more than the ideas from the heart. The one used to only writing from textbook-based prompts. The one who was up way too late and on such a hot crayon-melting day, and was making excuses to avoid the work. Or maybe it’s something else…
So like any insightful teacher, Michelle pushed a little bit more. A big topic of interests for kids these days seem to be amusement parks and restaurants. Upon asking the student if he went to any favorite places to eat, he said that he hadn’t, that his favorite food is tacos (good choice), and that he always asks for apples from the grocery store but never gets them.
These conversations with kids can be heartbreaking. But if you know Michelle, she had a plan.
The next day, the reluctant writer was greeted at his desk by a huge, shiny, red apple. It didn’t take long for the apple to be down to the core. He even asked to eat the seeds! Sure enough, once writer’s workshop rolled around, this young writer was full of ideas, including a story idea about a trip to Fantasy Island.
One. red. apple.
That’s all. A teacher who listens and performs a simple act of kindness had the power of opening a blocked writer’s door. It’s no surprise that Michelle is loved each one of her students. It goes to show how much power an act of listening and kindness can breed a trusting relationship between teacher and student, which ultimately opens the door of endless possibilities. I’m privileged to have Michelle as a friend, colleague….and “work wife”!
I’m glad I had the opportunity to know about this simple act. It inspires me to be a better listener and to keep building positive relationships with my own students.
Here’s to a great start to the 2016-2017 school year!