Friday, September 7, 2007

Why do we do what we do?

Two weeks have flown by so fast. I checked my blog and couldn't believe it had been so long since I posted. School has kept me busy. I work with a great team of teachers and have a fun group of students who definitely keep me on my toes. I'm enjoying my time with Barry. Have I mentioned what a truly good guy he is? I am so lucky to have found him!

I have to share a story from school I need to share from this week. "Sally" is a girl in my class that apparently was mad at the world last year. She hated school and didn't care to do much work at all that was assigned to her. This year she has a new best friend and so far says she loves school. She slipped me a note the first week of school at the end of the day. It was soooo cute. She wrote..."Dear Ms. _____ You rock! Not only are you a good teacher, but my new best friend." She went on to say, "Since you are my new best friend I might as well tell you who I like." She then proceeds to name her #1 crush. BUT...doesn't stop with that. She goes on to name three other boys that she has "smaller crushes" on. How cute is that?!!! I know some teachers may not appreciate note passing, but it just makes my day for a child to trust me enough to share some personal info. with me. :)

This week we have been working on writing "lively leads" during process writing. "Sally" as I mentioned hated school last year and rarely wrote. Well, Wednesday we worked on three different types of leads. I had the students write a lead to any story they chose for each of those three types. Not the entire story....just the lead. "Sally" has a colorful home life so she has many life experiences that many 5th graders haven't had to face. When I read her leads it reminded me of just what kind of things many kids face at home...when I asked her to share her experience that prompted her to write these leads I was near tears.

I'll never forget his watery, blue eyes or his bright, red, cherry lips. I'll remember the
sound of his sweet, sweet voice and remember the love we shared, heart to heart."
"Wow, look how shiny the coffin is," said my sister "Carrie". Brian is dead and you are
happy, that is so wrong," I replied sadly.
I know I have to let go, Brian is never coming back. It's hard to do, but I have to move
on. I'll always love him, but it's time to say goodbye. maybe reading them online, they don't quite evoke the same kind of emotion as they did when I read them in class. But, you also can't see this sweet child standing in front of you with tears in her eyes. When I gently asked her what the story was behind these leads she told me this story.
I knew Brian for seven years. He was a friend and the love of my life. (sweet 5th grade
love) He was taken away from him mom and put in a foster home. They said his mom
was not a good mom to him. Brian had asthma and the people he was staying with didn't
have his inhaler. So when Brian had an asthma attack, they didn't have his medicine for
him and he died right there. (I'm barely holding back the tears by this point.) He was only 10
years old when he died and it was stupid for it to happen.
WOW! I already know that "Sally" doesn't have the life of so many children with parents that have a lot to give her. She has many reasons to hate life as her previous teachers told me, but this just broke my heart. I told her that this was soooo powerful and it made me so proud that she was in my class. That as much as I love to teach writing, I love to read student writing even more. I felt that she has a story inside of her about Brian and told her so. I made a deal with her....if she writes the story this year, I'll help her edit it and then I'll find someone to publish it. Even if it's just for us. There are those companies out there that will do it. She was beaming as the tears threatened to spill over her eyelids. I asked her if I could read it to the rest of the class and she graciously agreed. I think the students were shocked to see this type of writing from her. She enjoyed the praise from the class...I don't think it has happened a lot in the past.

You me...this is what teaching is all about. If I can make a difference in the life of one child, I will have made a difference in the world. But, the real truth is that she has made a difference in my life and that makes me a better person. I learn from kids like "Sally" and all the others than I ever imagined when I began my teaching career.
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