The mother’s heart is the child’s schoolroom.
Henry Ward Beecher
When I was 16 years old my passion was playing my clarinet in the high school band, and my hero was Benny Goodman. Yep, in the mid 1970s while all the other sixteen year olds were listening to Deep Purple, I was bopping to Sing Sing Sing with a Swing. That’s some high level of geekitude in my teenage years.
In the fall of 1976 I discovered Goodman was going to do a concert in downtown Buffalo, not far from where we lived. By the time I heard about the concert it was only a few days away. (This was before everyone was on the Internet, so Benny wasn’t tweeting and I couldn’t friend him on Facebook to learn about these things in advance. ) There were only a few standing room only tickets left. And that was all my family would have been able to afford anyway, because my dad had just started a new business and my parents had sunk their life savings into it. We’d never had a more frugal time in our family, but when I asked my mom if we could go she didn’t hesitate, especially when she heard the seats were so inexpensive.
We went to the will call window to pick up the tickets an hour before the concert began and the clerk said, “We just discovered we can add two rows of chairs to the orchestra pit. If you’d like to pay for an upgrade, we can give you two of those seats.”
I felt terrible for my mom because I knew we couldn’t afford the upgrade, and I opened my mouth to tell her it was okay, I was just so happy to be there. At the same moment my mom said to the clerk, “Sure, I’ll pay for the orchestra seats.” It was incredible — we were so close we could see the sweat fly off his brow as he played. Benny Goodman quit touring not long after that, so it turned out to be my one chance to see him live.
I always tear up a bit when I think of that concert, especially around Mother’s Day. The moments in a child’s life when their passion is acknowledged and supported by an adult, especially when a sacrifice is involved, are the moments they carry with them forever.
It’s probably appropriate that the last days of school are sandwiched between Mother’s and Father’s Days, even if these are only made-up holidays that were invented by greeting card companies. End of year school rituals – creating keepsakes and taking field trips and celebrations are all time-consuming, sometimes exhausting, and involve no small sacrifice on the part of teachers. Why do we do it? Because kids will see the sweat on our brows, and they will know how much they mattered to us.
This week we look at student work ethic late in the school year. Plus more as always — enjoy!
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Here are two features from the Choice Literacy archives to help you think about effort in fresh ways.
What does it mean to “challenge” skilled students? Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan consider the issue in Challenging Advanced Young Readers: Harder Texts Aren’t Always the Answer:
“You can’t expect any work from seventh graders after 2 p.m. — it’s a scientific fact.” Erin Ocon hears these words from her student Aaron, and realizes she needs some new strategies for dealing with this resistant writer:
Katherine Sokolowski reflects on her blog about times when adults and children choose not to give their best effort:
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Katherine Sokolowski finds the work ethic of her fifth-grade students is flagging by spring, so she helps them reflect upon and improve their performance:
Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan are Ending Reading Workshop by Planning for September, and find a little effort at the end of the school year pays big dividends when launching workshops in the fall:
Gretchen Taylor explains why it’s important to get less “judgy” of the colleagues around us in Love the One(s) You’re With:
We conclude our video series of end-of-year reading interviews with Ruth Shagoury. In this installment, she asks students about how they have changed as readers throughout the year:
Ruth’s writing interviews finish with similar questions about changes and the teacher’s influence on writing:
That’s all for this week!