Sunday, I stopped by my classroom to drop off a few things; put away some books. Before I left, I checked on the seeds we planted on Wednesday. They sat, jars filled with dark, damp soil. I held each up and looked through the glass. The seeds were unchanged; suspended in the dirt. I worried about the upcoming lesson plan that assumed growth. My students planted each seed believing, that they held life. Sunday afternoon I saw little evidence of it.
The first week of school holds the excitement of newly planted seeds. Hopes and dreams of how each child will flourish. With the just right soil and with proper care, each seed will burst forth, and our garden will be filled, heads reaching toward the sun.
But want if it doesn’t go as planned?
This weekend, I looked at my students’ beginnings. I read bits of writing and math thinking. I tried to picture each student and list three things I knew about each one. I thought back to their choice of books, where they sat in the classroom, who they chose to sit next to, how they left for recess, what they shared with me. I remembered how they read. Some head down, book firmly grasped. Others were squirmy in their seats. Many on the carpet. Some perched in corners. This weekend I just took it all in and made some lists.
The beginning of the year holds hope as well as the possibility of judgment. Of putting students into one box or category. This weekend, this week, and next week I will make my lists. I’ll be collecting things I know about each child. Trying to piece together who they are, what they need.
Monday morning there were squeals in the corner. “Look! They’re growing!” Students clustered around the jars of planted seeds. The pots that held little hope of a plant the day before had burst forth.
Today, X, Y, and Z revealed tiny bits of themselves. X’s favorite sport is soccer, even though he’s finishing a summer baseball league. Y knows a lot about what she reads, more than one would assume by watching her. Z has a tough time making mistakes.
This year, every day is a day to look to find another sprout, a searching root, reaching for more.