I should have jotted that idea down. It was the end of my last conference today. We were talking about writing. My student and I talked about slices, and the parent talked about photo journaling. I mentioned my recent slice about getting the giggles.
“You wrote about that?” the student asked while smiling and looking amused, and maybe also a bit surprised that this had been a topic I’d chosen.
The parent chimed in, “That’s funny!”
We got to talking about other ideas for writing, and tiny moments that could be captured. My student said, “You could write about…” Except, I can no longer remember what was suggested. A lot has happened since 3:20 this afternoon, so now, I’m writing about the moment when a student suggested a topic, and I responded, “That’s a great idea. I think I’ll write about that tonight!”
If only I could remember what that great topic was…
Perhaps a good night’s sleep will jog my memory, and my topic will be chosen for tomorrow night!
This is the wall. The blank page at 10:19 PM, eyes threatening to close, blinking in the heavy way that speaks of denied sleep. The wall that is a week of conferences, eight last night, 6 today, and 6 more ahead. The wall is not a lack of ideas. The wall is a lack of energy. I am willing the keys to be pressed and the words to appear on this wall of white. There is a challenge. There is a goal. There is a stubborn need to get to the end. The white wall of blankness is pushing my limits in this moment of sheer willpower overriding exhaustion…………………………………………………………………..This is the drifting space in which my thoughts disengage and I realize I am staring at a blank space where the next word should go, but my fingers have stopped and my eyes are actually staring through more than at. I might need to call this moment cooked. Teaching and writing daily is a challenge. I’m not sure what to call teaching, and writing daily, and conferences, and also trying to be ready for a trip to visit my son on the other side of the world. This is the night where I have nothing left to offer. I will stop, post and comment on three.
The phone rang in our classroom. It happens 2 or 3 times a day. I never need to think about it, because we have a Phone Supervisor whose job it is to answer the phone. “Hello, 3E, may I ask whose calling, please?” this student asks each time. It’s one of my favorite jobs to train students for, partly because it is beyond adorable to watch an 8-year-old adopt the mannerisms of an older person, and also because the students learn what it is to be mannerly in such a visible way, multiple times a day. I am careful about training this person, because this is an example of how we should interact with others, displayed over and over again throughout the year.
I think I especially love this classroom job in this day and age because so few students need to answer a landline. Cell phones come with lots of information when a call comes in. Even I often answer calls from people I know with, “Hey!” The formality is lost. It’s not better or worse, but it is different, and it’s not typically a way for kids to learn the etiquette of certain interactions.
Back to our class Phone Supervisor, who is a ball of energy, bounding from chair to phone each time it rings. This characterization will help you to picture the moment that caused me to have uncontrollable giggles.
So, the phone rang. I was working with two students at our group table, which is next to the phone. Our Supervisor was sitting on the other side of the room, working on a computer, headphones on. Earlier in the day, this student’s glasses had broken and the right temple had fallen off. I had taped the glasses up and they had broken again before lunch. (Yes, you’ve guessed it, this is related to the phone-ringing moment.) I taped the glasses up again, and gave them back after lunch.
Can you picture it? Said student is typing away at a computer, taped glasses perched on the nose, and red headphones over the head. To tell the truth, I hadn’t taken this all in until the phone rang. Because of the headphones, the student didn’t hear the phone, so students nearby informed our supervisor that the phone was ringing. What happened next was truly comical.
“Oh!” was exclaimed, and the child exploded from the chair to answer. In the process, the headphones and glasses went flying in opposite directions. Flying! The child was startled into action and the result was such a comical series of events to watch, that many students formed the letter “O” with their mouths. I started to chuckle, but the moment settled in on me, and I quite literally was taken over by a true case of genuine giggles. The type students get, but not teachers. The class started to belly laugh with me, while our Phone Supervisor maintained control and answered, “Hello, 3E, may I ask who’s calling, please?” As our supervisor listened, the students and I were still giggling. When the phone was extended in my direction, and the student said, “They want you,” I was still laughing, tears filling my eyes. Our phone supervisor did the only thing that could be done…”Would you please hold for a minute?” he asked.
HILARIOUS! The teacher has uncontrollable giggles, and the ball-of-energy child remains composed and uses the best-of-manners to ask for a moment so the teacher can compose herself. The nurse, who was on the other end of the line, did not even recognize me when I answered, amusement still filling my voice.
Later, the news of the day was posted on the board by a student who has adopted the self-appointed role of reporting events in our daily lives. Beneath a drawing of broken eyeglasses, the message read: “________’s glasses when talking on the phone!!! LOL!”
Laughter truly is good for us. Glad to have had the giggles, kid-style!
Here is a picture of the message (name obscured):
When’s the last time you giggled?
My students have made digital portfolios for this week’s parent-student-teacher conferences. The work of the last many days has been to make sure that students are prepared for their presentations. As you can imagine, it’s been a whirlwind of activity getting ready!
One of the slides is a reflection about life in our classroom, and uses the following prompts:
- Something interesting that happened in our class is…
- A fun event in 3E was…
- 3E is unique because…
- What I will always remember about 3E is…
Reading what each student writes in answer to these prompts is a delight. The students remind me of things I’d forgotten, and they show the “branding” of our room with statements like: 3E is unique because of all the smiley faces, and 3E is unique because we all love books. You can’t help but smile when reading these reflections. Each portfolio is special and reflects the student.
While reading with one of my students today, we got to the “Life in 3E” slide, and there was this statement:
“What I will always remember about 3E is my amazing teacher.” Awwww! Cute, right? Of course, I can’t help but love moments like that, however, it doesn’t surprise me. It’s fairly typical for students to include me somewhere on this page of class reminiscing. I don’t take it for granted. I’m always touched by it, regardless of how typical.
That said, there was a stop-me-in-my-tracks moment to this particular portfolio, because right beside the sentence was a little picture. When I say little, you can interpret that as, my old eyes couldn’t read it without getting closer to the screen. So I smiled at the child, who was smiling at me, and then I leaned close to the screen saying, “What’s this?” Next to the already lovely note about remembering me was a colorful quote that this student had found to accompany her writing. It said: “They may forget what you said, but they will not forget how you made them feel.”
That was when I found myself a little speechless. “Oh!” I whisper exclaimed. “That is just beautiful.” She smiled more broadly, and I smiled my warmest smile back. The whole moment was surely less than a minute, but it was a minute that filled my day.
These are words I live by. I come to school every day knowing that I control the weather, and I get to choose whether we will have a stormy or sunny day. Our room is covered in smiley faces, and I make a vow never to yell, no matter how frustrated I might feel. However, most of what my students feel and think about me and my actions will never be explicitly shared, so I am grateful for the feedback of one third grader today, who let me know that my mission to treat my students with care, kindness, and respect was felt. That tiniest of moments is the grandest because it is what matters most each day. I still remember how my favorite teachers made me feel, and it’s been a long time. I will always remember.