Yesterday K said to me, “Mrs. Harmatz can I share this story with you?”
I look at him and his notebook. In the margin is a yellow colored egg with brown spots. I’m thinking, we are “suppose to be” revising our personal narratives. K is working on something that is not. Hmmm.
“This is kind of a fairy tale. I think it’s my best piece of writing ever.”
I melt. And sit down. J, sitting across from him, is listening, ready to hear the best story ever.
“I’ve been working on it since the beginning of the year.”
We listen to the story of a strange creature who hatches out of this brown spotted egg.
When he finishes, K looks up at me with expectant eyes. I know as a teacher of writing I’m not “suppose to” compliment the writing, I’m “suppose to” compliment and teach the writer. I know that I’m “suppose to” be teaching into our personal narrative unit.
K asks, “Should I keep writing this?”
Oh. My. Gosh.
I ask, “What do you think this story is really about?”
“Probably about not fitting in.”
While I’m not “suppose to” complement the writing I did.
I could have complimented him on his writing spirit.
I could have complimented him on his independence as a writer.
I’m wondering why and when K wrote this story; how he has been working on this story. Little by little, here and there? He is the writer I want to be. That’s what I should have said yesterday.
Being human means, we don’t always do what we are “suppose to” do the moment we are “suppose to” do it. We don’t always fit that expectation neatly. The bigger question might be, do we grow to fit in a way that fits us?
Yesterday, T came back with his mom to visit. He’s a sophomore in high school now. Straight As. Looking to study computer science. He was a quiet kid. Still is.
T didn’t fit that straight-A image when he was with us. If you were to look at his assessments when he was a fifth-grader, you wouldn’t think he would be on track to be college or career ready. He was an earnest, hard-working a sweet, sweet soul. But that didn’t show up in his test scores.
Given time, this young man is finding his place, where he’s supposed to be.
When we look at our students’ assessments this year, I think it is important to celebrate and support the narratives that live alongside the score. Being human is a complex thing. Full of possible and intention and reflection that isn’t always evident.
What hatches out of that spotted egg may not meet our expectations. It may not fit at the moment. Part of our job as educators is to celebrate those moments of hard work and excitement that may not be what we are looking for at the moment, but speak to a whole lot of possible. That’s what takes away the achiness.
This week, I celebrate finding the possible in our personal narratives.
This week, I celebrate Ruth Ayers for creating this place to meet and reflect on our week. Thank you, Ruth.