A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.
When the weather turned violent at Camp Crooked Creek, my son Sam found himself crouched in a latrine. Being sentimental, Sam pulled out his notebook and began penning a note. “Dear Mom and Dad,” he wrote. “I might die in a tornado and I don’t know if you will be able to read this because I’m writing from the latrine. Don’t wonder how I died while in shelter, because this is just a shack pretending to be a building.”
The letter was hand-delivered to our front door midweek. Ben, who had just graduated from high school the week before, held out some folded pieces of paper. “I told Sam I would give you this letter.” I took the paper and he walked back to his car.
I unfolded the letter. It went on for four pages, a chronicle of the fierce weather with an ominous ending: “If I don’t survive, don’t blame yourselves. You tried to give me a good childhood and you didn’t know Camp Crooked Creek would be hit by a tornado.” I wondered if Sam would ever go to a Boy Scout adventure camp again.
As he was preparing for Camp Crooked Creek this year, Sam didn’t linger on the savage storms. What he remembered most was Ben’s kindness.“I still can’t believe Ben hand-delivered my letter,” Sam said. “It’s not like he really knew me. He just did it to be nice.”
Although most of us don’t hunker in the corner of the latrines when the storms of life hit, I think the world will always be better if we respond like Ben and are nice to one another when life gets fierce.
This week we look at how to help children who are facing different kinds of life storms in our classrooms. Trauma is so often present. Plus more as always—enjoy.
Lead Contributor, Choice Literacy
Gretchen Schroeder struggles to understand the meaning and value of her teaching when two former students overdose and die in separate incidents, and another is indicted on murder charges. These events lead to deep reflection on how teachers can move beyond feelings of sadness, apathy, and envy.
Ruth Ayres explains which workshop routines are essential for children who come to school bearing trauma.
Laura Markham shares the value of using “peaceful parenting” strategies in classrooms.
Start your year right with online courses from Ruth Ayres on literacy coaching, Cathy Mere on assessment beyond levels, and Dana Murphy on designing coaching cycles. Details are available at this link. Choice Literacy members receive discounts of 20 to 40% off the course fee. Nonmembers receive a three-month trial membership as part of the course fee. Winter is a great time to refine and develop new skills.
New members-only content is added each week to the Choice Literacy website. If you’re not yet a member, click here to explore membership options.
Jen Schwanke remembers her own experiences with trauma as a scared young girl, and how one kind teacher made all the difference in putting her on the path to healing. This makes her ponder the power of literacy in reaching wounded students in our midst.
In this week’s video, Dana Murphy uses a difficult time in her own life to teach her fifth-grade students about crafting flashbacks in narrative writing.
Jeff is apathetic and unengaged. In order to help this middle school learner, Mark Levine needs to understand his history. Mark shows the promise of interviews for connecting with struggling teen learners.
In an encore video, Ruth Ayres confers with second grader Max about the story of his lost dog, and uses a mentor text to demonstrate the power of two-page spreads.
Lead Literacy now has a new home as the Leaders Lounge at Choice Literacy. We’ll be posting the new content updates here in the Leaders Lounge section of the Big Fresh newsletter.
Jennifer Allen explains how she leads conversations with teachers about hard themes in literature and how teachers might use these books that include trauma in their classrooms.
New PD2Go: Gigi McAllister explains why she hosts optional lunchtime author studies, with practical tips on getting started.
Rebecca Donnelly shares her history as a sad child and how it influences her writing now for children. Her reflections on the place of feelings in classrooms would be useful in a professional development session on dealing with challenging topics in children’s literature.
I do not want to live in paradise; this world is enough, so broken and so full of promise.
That’s all for this week!