cars, trucks, jeeps, convertibles balloons, streamers, posters, inflatable whales honking, waving, smiling, crying teachers in vehicles students on corners with signs families on balconies of their apartments siblings in the back of cars, feet dangling parents holding children in their arms we are so proud of you we miss you #rocket strong stay safe rockets always find a way we love our teachers we miss you can we come back yet? future schmitt rocket we miss school go rockets this is not how it is supposed to be our hallways are silent yet our streets are full of families waiting to get a glimpse of their teachers driving by we are full of hope yet full of sorrow my heart did not realize the longing until i saw your faces, smiles i miss you when can we be together again? august is too far away and dare i say later?
Tomorrow you should be walking (though we know you rarely walk) through our doors. You should be sharing your spring break stories with us, or complaining about how you did nothing and missed us. You should be hugging friends you haven’t seen for over a week. You should be skipping down the hall, arm and arm with your bestie that you’ve missed so much.
Instead, you will be staying at home trying to navigate online learning while having a houseful of other learners and workers. Some of you will be heading to the waiting area at school at your scheduled time to pick up your device and other materials. Others will be at home with no resources to get the supplies you need. Many of you will wait in the car line to get your lunch from a brown sack.
No one wants this. We want you back at school. We want to see your smiling faces, and not just through a computer screen. We want to hear your grand ideas and attempt to answer your thoughtful questions. We want to be able to give hugs and high fives to welcome you back to your home away from home.
Tomorrow will be hard.
We are 14 days into the Slice of Life challenge, and I am learning so much about being a writer. I’m learning about finding stories in everyday life. I’m learning about looking for nuggets of ideas in my notebook when I’m struggling to find a slice. I’m learning how to give meaningful feedback as I think of feedback others have given me and how it pushes me along. I’m learning how to read like a writer.
I just started Susan Orlean’s The Library Book. I’m finding the content of the book fascinating, but just as important, I’m learning so much about writing through her craft. She begins each chapter with a list of library books that have the theme of the chapter in common. I find myself reading to find out the common thread with the books. Also, I have stopped several times to reread and study her phrasing and word use. This writing challenge has heighten my awareness as I read. I am looking for ways I can try things out in my writing that I notice other authors use. I know this is a practice I can use with students, as well.
It started with a mysterious piece of folded paper left on my desk adorned with squiggly lines.
He had already started to use the writer’s notebook we set up just hours before. Ethen visits my office often, looking for books, but this time he asked if I had “one of those books with all of the lines.” Of course I did, so he picked a color, and we wrote “Ethen’s Writing Notebook” on the cover.
I went straight to Ethen’s room after receiving the mysterious paper. “I love your story! Can you tell me about it?” He proceeded to tell me it was a God song that goes “ooh ooh.”
The next day, another folded paper with squiggly lines, but this time it included a few illustrations. When I approached Ethen with excitement, he said it was an army story.
The following day, another piece of writing. This time with words! It was a song with the lyrics written out.
The next day, we wrote together. He ate breakfast at my table and wrote a sentence at a time about Godzilla. By the end of breakfast, he had 3-4 sentences about Godzilla’s body and actions. I commended him for telling so many details about Godzilla. We even revised a sentence by adding a color word as a description.
The following day, Ethen was back and eager to draw a picture of Godzilla. He made sure to capture the details in his story with his illustration.
Our writing club continues each morning. He has written about his grandma who passed away and published his dinosaur story on chart paper to share with his classmates. He is learning his notebook is a place to record his thoughts and feelings. I am learning how to encourage a writer one step at a time. How to cultivate the joy of writing through time and questioning. How to take what I learn by writing every morning and put it into bite sized pieces for our youngest learners.
The energy I feel with my morning writing buddy sustains me throughout the day. It’s also got me thinking…How can I capture this with a larger group? Can I start a writing club? How? When? Who?
Spring is near.
I stopped to notice.
The birds have found their song again. Walking in the morning there is silence no more. The birds welcome the light and with that a sense of gratitude for the day wells up.
I stopped to notice.
The snow drops have bloomed in the meadow. The first sign that the earth is warming to the thought of spring. The new is emerging bringing with it the fresh start of a new season.
I stopped to notice.
The daffodil bulbs are starting to emerge. Their emerald green pushes up through the callous, hard earth. They signal the shift from winter to spring.
I stopped to think.
What tender strength is found in the emergence of spring. Things that are so delicate, yet have the tenacity to survive the cold nights. Things so gentle, yet full of toughness. I think that gentle strength is a trait most educators identify with. We have such concern and love for our students, yet must maintain the strength and stability it takes to run a classroom with many diverse needs. We have a soft spot for every story our students share, yet with perseverance we guide them to rise above it.
I stopped to notice; I stopped to think. I find myself doing that much more these days. One of the benefits of getting older, I guess. Having the time to hit pause and think, wonder, reflect.