“When I didn’t get up you should have gone to Mrs. Skubik and told her I wasn’t listening.”
“You should have listened to me.”
They were both angry. One had just dumped the other out of “his” chair and onto the floor. We talked some more, and I tried to help them get to the idea that there were other ways that the situation could have gone.
“Well, I guess I could have listened to you.”
“Yea – I could have sat somewhere else too.”
“I guess we were both a little at fault.”
“Yea, I’m sorry.”
This part of teaching is so important. It takes so much time. It is invisible to those outside of the classroom. It isn’t sexy, fun, cool, it’s untwitterable, and it doesn’t show up on test scores (well- not directly), but it is the life blood of a functioning classroom. And it is rewarding, but in the tiniest doses, like taking an 81mg aspirin for a migraine. It takes a lot to get some relief.
Earlier in the day during independent reading time, I watched J get up out of her seat, go and grab two books off the shelf, and walk back and slap them down in front of her partner. “This is what we are going to read now. Put the other ones away ’cause I don’t like them.”
“Well, I do. I don’t want to change books!”
I shot them a look. They stopped talking. When I was finished with my conference, I went over and sat down. Lots of anger. Lots of misunderstandings. Clearly, this partnership was not working for either of them. I usually try to help partners work their way through it, but you know –know when to hold ’em and know when to fold ’em– I told them I would work something out to change things up. I knew the problem was mostly with J, I knew her interactions with others was often problematic. She had a lot of difficult things going on in her nine-year-old life. I asked her if I gave her a few names, would she be willing to find someone she could work with. She nodded.
Turns out, there were two boys she thought she could work with. I went and asked them how they felt about adding a third person to their partnership.
“Oh sure, we could work with her.”
“Yea, and she could help us. She’s really good at reading.”
Wow, right under my nose, and I had no idea she had fans. How did I miss that?
Last year I posted up our favorite “words of the wiser” words from our read-alouds, those signpost words that help readers get to the most important messages a book has to offer. I am thinking this might be a good year to add our own words of the wiser, the words we use when we are being kind and lifting up our better angels.
So today I celebrate those words, those little miracles every day.
Thank you to Ruth Ayers for reminding me to celebrate. There are more here, and today is the 100th celebration day! WOW!