Celebrating Our Personal Narratives

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.

Retrospective-thinking here:

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.

celebrate link up

13 thoughts on “Celebrating Our Personal Narratives

  1. This list brought a lump to my throat and a well of years to my eyes. What I love most about it is this:

    He is the writer I want to be. That’s what I should have said yesterday.

    It makes me miss sitting with kids who write everyday. It shouts: I am a learner too!

    Thank you for sharing … the not supposed to-s.

  2. This is the quote I will take away, “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. ” A whole lot of possible. It’s hard to see those moments. Keep looking. Keep paying attention. And keep writing.

  3. This is a beautiful reflection on both writing and life. As we begin a new school year and are bombarded with a variety of assessments, it is sooo important to listen for that narrative as well. Thank you for this reminder.

    Jennifer

  4. I am loving this and saying “Amen”: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.

  5. These words grabbed me, ” He is the writer I want to be. That’s what I should have said yesterday.” YES!!! And you can still tell him. You can always tell him. LOVE this reflection about the feedback and the moments and relationships in writing. 🙂

  6. Love your post today!!
    Also, I am glad that I am celebrating here on Saturdays too! It is a great writing motivator for me.

  7. Julieanne, this statement of yours, “I think it is important to celebrate and support the narratives that live alongside the score”, is so true for all educators. We need to live the moments that signify growth that may not be measurable on tests. Thank you for your ever reflective thoughts.

  8. I’m very happy that I’m taking time to read everyone’s celebrations, and yours touched me so, Julieanne. How does one ‘teach’ new teachers to ‘know’ this, to celebrate the child’s triumphs along the way with teaching the ‘supposed to’s’? I think I will share this with that teacher-to-be I’m mentoring this year, hoping he’ll read it more than once! Thank you, hope you share more about that egg some day.

  9. Amen Julieanne! That is a beautiful celebration. It captures what I was thinking about a lot during the last two weeks, minus the spotted egg. “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.” And if we love and nourish the possible, that child will grow. It is a child, not a score. Not a rank. Not a red or yellow or green shaded-in-line on my class roster. Thank you for the beautiful reminder.

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