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.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

How Do I Love Them? Let Me Count the Ways...

Today, I took some time during the school day to simply marvel at my students...simply because they are marvel-ous!

1. They "get" it.

This morning we took our bow, and then called off attendance. The student who has the "attendance" job on our Rota list, rolled his eyes and grunted this morning when it was his turn to take the attendance to the office. I took the opportunity to remind him - and the class - what Rota is about: being part of our community. Rota is about stepping up to the plate and being of service to our classroom and to one another. It's a duty, but it's a privilege. I explained that it's like exercising our opportunity to vote in elections or serving on jury duty. The student who had attendance duty smiled shyly and said, "I understand." When we took attendance again after he lunch, he took the attendance sheet to the office without a peep.

Later today some gossip was flying around. One of the students admitted to the class that she had "assumed" something and shared it with several others. She apologized publicly to the student whom she had wrongly named. Her apology was accepted. We then talked about how harmful even small gossip can be. Lots of heads were nodding and everyone agreed that we need to remember that we are in this together, that we are a "family."

2. They take risks...with enthusiasm!

Both my homeroom and my other sixth grade section have grown in leaps and bounds in drama since August. It is a joy to watch them. It's wonderful to be able to give them direction now too and have them "get" that it's direction, not a "blow" to their character or to their work. My students are in the midst of "auditions" for their final productions in May. They are taking it seriously and having fun at the same time. They are supporting each other's work and one another's courage. Way cool!

3. They take part in rich discussions, and practice depth of inquiry.

I am often floored with what my students bring forth and bring out of one another. And they love it! And I love it. We have discussions sometimes where I have to stop them because we run out of time - and they plead with me to keep going! Today wasn't a "pleading" day, but we had a really good discussion - in both my Language Arts sections, actually, and I just felt so proud of my students and so awed by their thoughtfulness.

4. They make me laugh every single day.

Seriously: I laugh my patooty off with my students! They are hilarious. They are silly. They are so smart and quick at times, they completely take me by surprise. I chuckle, I guffaw, I belly laugh, and I have busted a gut laughing so hard I have cried - and on several occasions.

5. They make me remember my humanity. They humble me.

There is nothing I can get away with with my students. They catch everything. And the things they don't say they see, I catch: when I'm dismissive of what someone has to say because I'm "in a bad mood," or "in a hurry." When I "lose it" because I am being impatient, because my expectations aren't met. When I can see in one of my student's faces that I have hurt their feelings or shamed them - even if I hadn't meant to...because I wasn't mindful enough, not aware enough - when I've put me before them. Oh, those moments feel terrible. But I am so grateful for them because they remind me what I need to be doing. They remind me of my purpose.

There are times when my students practice such care and compassion. Someone does something thoughtful - practices a gesture of kindness - and I get to witness it and be reminded of the fact that it's really that simple, that easy: that it's the small things that often mean the most, that make the biggest impact.

For their Language Arts homework this evening the students are writing a reflection based on a line from Madeleine L'Engle's book A Wrinkle in Time. "Don't you know you're the nicest thing that's happened to me in a long time?" (p. 60-61). They were asked to think about what it would feel like if someone told them that. They were also asked to think about how their behavior would warrant someone telling them that - and to look at their current behavior: would it compel someone to tell them that they are "the nicest thing that's happened to me in a long time?"

When I first re-read that line aloud to my students, I heard a lot of "ohh's" and saw sweet smiles. The room got fairly quiet when I asked, "Can you imagine if someone told you that?" I could tell that most all of them understood the responsibility and the connection that comes with such a compliment.

I suppose I just gave you five reasons why I love my students. I didn't actually give you any "ways" that I love them. But I do. I love them all in so many ways. I imagine if you want to know how I love them, you'll have to ask them yourself! I'm still counting...

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