Saturday, February 13, 2016

Question 2

To recap: This is part of an educators' writing challenge that is going around the internet. It's called "Five Questions", and the idea is to answer them and then tag some other teachers to try it, too. My good friend and writing group buddy, Ellen, shared her responses and tagged all of us at our recent meeting. As I wrote yesterday, I was thrilled because I recognize a serial when I see it!

2. Share two accomplishments that you are proud of this school year.

Just this morning one of our neighbors treated us to a passionate anti-Valentine's Day rant. "It's not even a real holiday!" she complained as the rocking chair she sat in seesawed vehemently. "It is just the product of commercialization!"

That may well be, but I can tell you this: kids love Valentine's Day. I remember back in elementary school spending all sorts of class time each year creating personal card sacks. Fashioned from a simple brown lunch bag, they were personalized and decorated and hung from each student's desk like a little mail box. Then on Valentine's Day there would be time set aside before the party (that our room mothers prepared for us) to drop cards in their respective bags. "You have to have one for everybody in the class," my own mother insisted when I was signing the colorful cardboard cards  had chosen and addressing their flimsy white envelopes that never stayed sealed. "It's not nice to leave someone out."

This year, yesterday was the last school day before Valentine's Day, and even though in middle school we neither decorate bags nor throw parties, the occasion is celebrated nevertheless. Sadly, not everyone gets a Valentine (perhaps because it isn't really a sanctioned school activity), but as a teacher, I usually do. This year was no exception. I got a homemade paper rose filled with Hershey Kisses, a couple of lollipops, two cards, and a comic book.

One of the cards was from a former student, and it had a very lengthy message in it thanking me for all I had done last year to make him a better writer. He specifically mentioned the hundred day writing challenge I sponsor each year and said that before my class he didn't like writing and it was hard for him, but now things have really improved. I knew he meant it, because I had also received a note from his mom at the new year telling me the same thing.

As much as I appreciated that validation of my planning and practice, my favorite gift was the comic book. It was another original work by the student who wrote Have Fun with Pants for me at Christmas. Just as before, his work, Bill in Love, was whimsical, well-written, and very funny, and I don't mean to take any credit for his creativity other than to point out that there's something about the vibe in my class that makes him feel comfortable to share his genius.

And those are the two things I'm most proud of this year:

I have given my students the opportunity and the motivation to consider themselves writers.