There is Life After the Thesis

After chronicling my thoughts, feelings, ideas, and experiences throughout the thesis process on this blog (formerly entitled Rites of a Thesis), it seemed odd to me to simply let the blog go just because I had turned in my thesis and graduated. I don't want to merely "shelve" my thesis nor do I want all that I got from my time at Naropa to lie dormant. I want my thesis to continue to live and breathe and become, and I would like all the teachings and experiences I had during my time at Naropa to do the same. So I am keeping the blog (changing the title), and am commiting to myself to (w)rite on as I journey forward.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Student Feedback Tells Me There is a Connection

I received an email from one of my students in response to a posting I had written on this blog. This particular student had asked if she could read my blog (she saw it one day at school), and I had given her the URL. I wasn't aware that she was continuing to read it. Here is what she wrote:

Wow Ms.Pitman, I really loved what you put about the universe giving you the message to speak to the highest within people. that was really encouraging for me, It made me think about how i can be really disrespectful to my friends and family, because I'm realizing that they are people too, with feelings and convictions, once I realize that, it is easier to follow the golden rule and do unto others as you would have them do unto you. i dont know if this was really the message you were trying to communicate to your blog readers but i sure got something out of it, Thanks!

There's also another thing, Ive been thinking alot lately about my future, what will i be, will I marry?. I also think about humankind's destiny and truth. i ask myself questions like, what is really true? (And a more recent one) is the right choice always the best? So I'm thinking that we should organize a club sorta thing for the sixth grade, which is kind of like humane letters, we discuss issues of past and future, we give our intake, we discuss books, but a very deep level. anyone can join. I would looooove to do this( being the nerd I am). Anyway, maybe you should think about it.

Here's the thing: this student is - quite obviously - a deep thinker. She is insightful, creative, and thinks in ways that are seemingly beyond her sixth grade years (by the way - she did, indeed, give me her permission to post her email here, sans her name). But for a student to be able to express herself to me in the way she does (and there have been other incidences where we have had conversations ranging from religion to personal family matters) - that tells me that she and I, as teacher and student and as person to person, have established a connection.

My sense is that this student feels safe enough to trust me with her very personal thoughts and feelings, and that tells me that our classroom atmosphere, created by the students and myself, is providing a forum for those connections to happen.

To follow up, I talked with the above student today, and we are going to see what we can do to put together a discussion group that meets, perhaps, just one time per month. But I love the idea that she is enthused about starting something like this. Some of the dicsussions we have in Language Arts [my homeroom class] would go well past the hour allotted if they could. I have no doubt that some of my other students would be interested in a group where they could exchange ideas on a myriad of subjects.

With this connection, my sense is that deeper learning is indeed happening. A sense of wonder is being nurtured and depth of inquiry is being explored.

On Friday, after school, I was talking to a Parent/Board member out in the courtyard. I saw a male student from the other sixth grade class waiting to talk to me. When I was done with the parent, I turned and asked the student what I could do for him.

This particular student is taller than me (I'm 5'5") and is a bit gangly. As I stood with him in the courtyard last Friday afternoon, he stood with his hands in his pockets, shifting from one foot to the other, unable to look me in the eye. He said, "Well, I just wanted to say that I really like your methods." (I had no idea what he was referring to exactly - what I teach? How I teach? - but I didn't want to ask him because he seemed pretty uncomfortable as it was).

He went on: "And my family likes your methods. There's five of us in our house and we all agree: we like your methods." (Methods? I thought. What does he really mean by that? And he keeps using that word!) "Even my brother likes your methods," he continued. "We were talking about them last night, and...we were wondering if...maybe...maybe you would be willing to have a conversation with us about your...your methods."

I said, " ______, thank you so much for letting me know that. I would be happy to have a conversation sometime with you and your family." I squeezed his shoulder. He then patted mine, and said, "Well, good. Good. And have a good weekend."

I am still not sure what this student meant by "methods," but I was tickled that he would tell me, and I believe he was quite brave to let me know. I also figured, something is happening here: some kind of connection.

Both of the above interactions are - to me - worth noting because this means that some kind of emotional, as well as intellectual, connection is being made between (at least a few of) the students and myself. And, I would like to think it has a great deal to do with the rituals we practice in the classroom.

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