Slice of Life: Ask That Your Way Be Long

“When you set out for Ithaka
ask that your way be long,
full of adventure, full of instruction.”

So starts the poem Ithaka by Constantine Cavafy.
We set out on our teaching journey with lofty ideals. Our Ithaka is to inspire. The one that has given up. The one that says that’s not for me; that’s for the smart ones.

But a teaching journey can take you to disappointment. With yourself or with a student. There are those days when the road is scattered with obstacles.  Dead ends. Double backs.

Today was one of those days when students would have none of my planned course of action. Their fifth-grade sensibilities took control, and they focused on their neighbors, not the writing or the running records I had planned.

What I expected did not happen. My plan book was a pipedream.
But, there were glimmers. Fleeting moments.

Reading clubs talked about this article.

What they wondered/learned:
“I didn’t know what a green card was.”
“Yeah, I’d heard of it, but I didn’t know.”

How they could figure it out:
“I think it is something that lets immigrants work here legally.”
“It says so right here.

What they just learned about themselves as a reader:
“If I keep reading it can answer my wonderings.”
“When I look around it, I can find clues.”

These golden minutes were days, weeks, years in the making.

Later, reading partners Deb* and Mary* talked about their book.
“The One and Only Ivan have all of those themes.”  (pointing to the chart posted with five important themes from Cornelius Minor )
“Yeah, when Ivan helped Ruby he was doing amazing things.”
“And that is also how when tension exists, friends and family support each other.”
“Mack used his power to control Ivan.”
“And Ivan stood up for Ruby.”
“Ivan figured out how to help Ruby. He thought that wasn’t possible. That was his real struggle.”
Yes, I said. Yes.

In a parent conference,
“After years of trying to find books he likes, I’ve finally figured it out. He loves poetry. He came to me with this saying, ‘Mom, I really like this book.'”
This made my day.  Maybe my year for this child. He found he loves poetry.
I handed him The Crossover. Hoping this will push his interest further.

“…ask that your way be long,
full of adventure, full of instruction.”

The destination is what moves us. On the way, we find moments that keep us going.

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



10 thoughts on “Slice of Life: Ask That Your Way Be Long

  1. Love these glimmers and moments you shared. And the links to background material. “The destination is what moves us.” Thanks for this glimpse into a day when the road was scattered with obstacles. Love the link you shared of five important themes from Cornelius Minor and the students connections to The One and Only Ivan. That one conversation alone would have made my day!

  2. Your ability to spotlight screams about your observation skills. If we didn’t have dips, how would we know when we were high atop a mountain?

  3. If it were a steady stream of success, there would be no challenge and everyone would teach. Great teachers like you carry on, despite setbacks, and dig deep. within themselves and their students, onward to the next success.

  4. A beautiful mantra, “The destination is what moves us. On the way, we find moments that keep us going.” Mining for the gold in each day is difficult, but you do it well. Love hearing the discussion of Ivan, such a wonderful book.

  5. That destination for students and “sometimes” led by teachers is filled with uncertainty, yet everyone keeps moving and finding answers, even teachers. You show your learning every time you share with us, Julieanne. I like that a lot.

  6. Your words give me goosebumps as I travel with you through your day watching and learning about your students. Thanks for letting the world into your teaching world.

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