The (almost) unfamiliar rains have sprinkled the ground and the leaves are begining to turn. September is most certainly upon us. I can hardly believe we have only been in school nine days! I am already dreaming (literally) about the amazing students in Opal two and the community I am lucky enough to come to each day. A community of children who displays such love and care for each other that I am left speechless. In Opal 2 last week we worked on routines, continued our stories, enjoyed math workshop, examined our garden, read many new books and played and played and played. As I pieced together my notes and memories from our week I just had to share a few examples of the courage, care and kindness I witnesses in this, my new community.
I read Thank You Mr. Falker last week by Patricia Polacco. It is her account of her difficulty as a reader and the teacher who stepped up and refused to let her believe her own fears and doubts. I love this story and can barely finish without a tear. I can identify with so many pieces of Patricia's journey. Now that I'm a teacher, my connection to her experience moves through both her childish perpectives to the teacher's reponse with aching poiniancy. I offered this story as a piece of me, a jumping off place for welcoming all kind of readers and truly a piece of my heart. I can not tell you the care with which my heart was received. " I love that story," was heard from many once the spell cast by a truly powerful story was broken by our collective exhale. We lived her story together, and I could feel their hearts break for Patricia's pain as much as they rejoiced in her success. I know that Opal 2 is a community that cares.
As for courage, in many ways courage is an essential in 1st and 2nd grade. Friendship (the real kind where there is risk and vulnerability) inherently requires courage. To invite despite uncertainty, to voice your experience and emotion, and to maintian independence despite the social barometer takes courage. It takes courage to share your written work, courage to offer a hypothesis or defend a conclusion, courage to read the just right book for you. It takes courage to trust a new friend or teacher who does strange things and reads strange stories and asks for help with the most mundane things. I know and respect this courage. I've seen it time and time again. Still, there are moments when I am newly in awe of the courage of young children. Add in the response of genuine care… well then you have one of my favorite Opal 2 moments of last week. In that moment, one small, rather quiet voice held all of Opal 2 in the palm of her hand. In that moment, I, preparing our next activity, had to walk away and trust. I turned back to look my classroom community and saw every eye trained upon this student's courageous sharing. Each child sat in silent listening stance making visable their authentic care for her. I would have hugged them all, but that so would have ruined the moment :)! I trusted, courage answered and care responded beautifully.
Just as listening communicates care, so too it reaveles marvelous happenings. My final moment of the week needed this intentional revealing. It was a moment as devoid of fanfare as brushing my teeth this morning. Actually, I didn't even mean to be listening exactly. I was just interested in the impressive structure a group of boys had crafted out of Kapla blocks. It was so cool, I went over to admire their technique. Drawn in by the unique building, I stayed to listen to their conversation regarding, shall we say, the "distribution of resources." Dealing with a finite number of blocks three boys discussed foundational economic principles like supply and demand, as well as more primitive ideals such as first come first serve. Finally, I heard the following exchange: " Well, you can have all of these back here cause I'm not really using them." (Refering to a bunch of Kaplas creating steps for the structure.) "Thanks!" came quickly from the two boys requesting blocks. Eager hands began to dismantle the steps as blocks were redistributed. Then, "Just be careful not to knock down the building." I had to look twice at who was speaking so strong was my assumption that only the builder of the structure would voice words to defend it. I looked once, and then again realizing slowly that the voice belonged to a block gatherer. His concern was for the well-being of his friend's work rather than his own. The simplicity and surprise of this thoughtful kindness took my breath away. When was the last time my own voice raised in defense of another with no strings attached? Amazing children inspiring me once again.
Care, courage and kindness – I'm grateful to be a part of this community Opal 2.