Slice of Life and Slivers of Light

Moments of beauty and promise are all around, but some days they can be harder to see. Sometimes they are slivers of light that come quickly and pass quietly. We have to pay attention.

A morning parent conference brought an immigrant’s story.
She came here at 17.
Learned to read English.
Worked two jobs.
Cared for her family.

Her daughter listened to the stories she has heard growing up. She looked on, proud.

“I tell my daughter, everywhere there are things to write about. You just have to be open to it.”

The bell rings and this momma gives her girl a kiss goodbye, and receives, a when-will-you-pick-me-up hug. I could hear and feel the love between these two.

Inspired by her mother, my student and I walk to the line, looking for stories to tell.

We enter the classroom, and the talk begins. Fifth graders are a busy lot. Blogging brings their buzz down; it’s a quieter way to be heard. And there is a sliver of light.

Later, getting ready for reading Some Kind of Courage the excitement builds. This adventure story has them captivated. But today I ask for thinking about big ideas. It almost seems unfair to ask such a thing when “what will happen next” is of prime importance. Who cares about themes if someone is going to die!

This chapter brought quiet and tears to a boy in the front row. This is the second time it’s happened and the second boy it’s happened to. No one said a thing.

I say, “When a story brings big emotion, we need to pay attention and ask why.”

I hear the slow beginnings of talk. Hesitant words.

“Family is important.”
“How you’ll do anything for family.”

I write their thoughts on the board. And with it, I see slivers of light.

Thank you, Two Writing Teachers for Slice of Life Tuesdays. Read more slices here.

17 thoughts on “Slice of Life and Slivers of Light

  1. What an intimate moment you’ve shared today. I was right there with you. It’s hard to explain to anyone other than another like-minded teacher how these children’s lives are etched in our souls. Thank you.

  2. I do love that you connected these two parts of your day, Julieanne, that early conference and the read aloud time. Fifth graders are just beginning to pull away into their own lives and need to know they can still be growing up and love their families too. You’re showing them that beautifully.

  3. “Slivers of light” are words that will stay with me. It’s a beautiful image to describe the cracks in the day when the light pours in. I taught immigrant children, so I felt every word of your post in my bones today. Thank you.

  4. The opening lines of your slice drew me in and made me pause to think about the slivers of light in my morning. Thank you for the reminder to stay vigilant because they’re all around!

  5. It takes a special teacher to recognize those slivers of light. Soon those slivers will become rays and by the end of the year, learning shines brightly from your class.

  6. “Slivers of light’ gets me thinking about the Leonard Cohen song “Anthem”. It has a line that says
    There is a crack in everything
    That’s how the light gets in.

  7. Love how you’ve labeled these small moments slivers of light. We can make it through when given these little glimmers.

  8. My heart was with you every word of this slice — powerful formative assessment in so many moments. I would love if all of our profession saw assessment as “slivers of light.” Thank you for what you do and for writing about it so powerfully.
    Clare and Tammy

  9. Once again, I am a fly on the wall of your classroom. Your writing craft makes me feel I am THERE! And now I have another book I want to read! Thanks for sharing so beautifully your interactions.

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