Make no judgments where you have no compassion.
It was the end of a long day in the middle of a long week that was part of a long month. I was working in a third-grade classroom and students were unraveling. This happens in the gray days of winter when stretches of delays and snow days pile up before standardized state testing. There was a young girl, straight hair pointing up, this way and that. She picked at the hole in her jeans. She jingled the bracelets on her wrist. She took off her necklace and pushed the beads. Back and forth, back and forth. She held it up, dangling it above her head, and pushed it with her nose. The teacher, Shellie Miller, quietly took the necklace. “I’ll keep this safe,” she whispered. The student huffed and collapsed onto her back, rolled to her belly, then flipped again to her back. She began bouncing her heels and then her head to a beat only she could hear. She popped up and poked the student beside her. She started singing. Then she poked the student on the other side of her and the one in front of her and the one behind her.
I watched as Mrs. Miller concluded the minilesson. Students went off to work, and then later returned to the meeting area for sharing. The same girl brought clinking bracelets with her. She twirled and flipped her hair – a whirlwind blend of a ballerina, ninja, and unicorn. You could feel anxiety leaking out of her small body.
Mrs. Miller called her name. The student paused, her eyes round, sensing trouble. Mrs. Miller held out her hand. “Come over here,” she said. The student stepped stepped stepped around wriggling bodies to the teacher and looked up at her. The teacher extended her hand to the student. “Will you stand here with me?”
The student put her small hand in the teacher’s hand. The share session began, Mrs. Miller leading from the back of the meeting area, with a small child clinging to her hand.
In the middle of a long day in a long week that’s part of a long month, it is easy to forget the anxiety and heartache and frustrations students carry with them. It is easy to forget patience. It is easy to forget that relationships are more important than curriculum. Shellie Miller reminded me of the power of a small action that maintains great dignity. I will try to remember this in the midst of a long day.
This week we look at options for lifting your spirits and those of your students through poetry. Plus more as always — enjoy!
Contributor, Choice Literacy
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There may be a group of students somewhere less eager to learn than a class of high school seniors during the last weeks of school, but that group would be as tough to locate as Bigfoot or the Loch Ness monster. Gretchen Schroeder discovers a surprising cure for senioritis — modern poetry:
In this video, Ruth Ayres leads a lesson on noticing words within poems:
You can find resources for celebrating National Poetry Month here:
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Gigi McAllister shares suggestions for infusing poetry throughout classrooms and the literacy curriculum all year long:
Gretchen Schroeder makes a case for teaching the sonnet to teenagers in the age of texts and Twitter:
The end of winter is upon us! Shirl McPhillips celebrates with a poem about an old crow and reflections on revising poems over time:
Jillian Heise uses the lowly paint chip board to inspire poetry in her middle school students:
In this encore video, Linda Karamatic helps her second graders see how they can use common objects as catalysts for poems:
That’s all for this week!