Their self-portraits surround them. They see themselves as they see themselves up on the wall. With those portraits looking down, students generated questions to help them dig into their memories of elementary school life and think about what might be next.Memoir writing involves not the memory but the reflection on it.
Some questioned themselves:
What have I learned?
How have I changed?
How have others changed me?
How will I use what I’ve learned in the future?
What will I miss?
Who will I miss?
Some wanted to talk.
Some asked, “Do we have to talk?” and “Do we have to answer them all?”
Even thought the whole point of the lesson was to find your way to reflect, some kids felt compelled to do the “right” thing, Funny how kids so quickly fall into the “do we have to” patterns.
Looking at the room, at their faces, it was evident, some just needed space. Others clung to each other to talk and then write.
One sort of wandered the room, with a lost look on his face. I asked him if I could help. He looked at me and said, I don’t know what to say. He was physically stuck. For him, it was a simple, “don’t worry” message. Relax, I told him, you have stories. He eventually found a place to sit and write.
Some surprising things happened. A writer who started with enthusiasm stopped after about five minutes and said, “This is harder than I thought it would be.”
Yes, I said, it seems anything worth doing isn’t easy. He looked at me. At that moment I thought if he learns anything this year, may it be this. Finally, he said, yeah that’s true.
A group of girls huddling on the carpet called me over and told me, D is crying.
What?! Apparently, the realization that she would no longer be with her friends left her weepy.
“It’s never going to be the same,” T said accelerating the drama. Soon they were a soggy mess on the carpet.
Outside Taylor Swift music blared to accompany the third-grade dance practice:. “that’s what people sayaaa.. hmm. mmm, that’s what people sayaaaa…”
The girls on the carpet leaned on each other with pillows, writing on their Chromebooks and in their notebooks.
A boy and girl sat side by side humming along, their heads bobbing from side to side writing. “…say’n it’s gonna be alright.”
Next week they will share their memories and their dreams. And I’m sure they’ll shed a few more tears.
This week I celebrate my students and the privilege it has been to spend a year with them.
Every year is a gift to learn with children. Every kid, every year.
This week I want to thank each and every one.
Thank you, Ruth, for your Celebration link up. Every week this is a place to share and find joy. Find more celebrations here.