We Are Responsible

My principal shared this poem with us at our Faculty Meeting last week. I don’t usually get all sappy about these kinds of things, but this one seemed to get to me. Enjoy!

We Are Responsible

We are responsible for children, who put chocolate fingers everywhere, who like to be tickled, who stomp in puddles and ruin their new pants, who sneak popsicles before supper, who erase holes in math workbooks, who can never find their shoes.

But we are responsible of those who stare at photographers from behind broken windows, who can’t bound down the street in a new pair of sneakers, who never “counted potatoes,” who are born in places where we wouldn’t be caught dead, who never go to the circus, who live in an “X-rated” world.

We are responsible for the children who bring us sticky kisses and fistfuls of dandelions, who sleep with the dog and bury goldfish, who hug us in a hurry and forget their lunch money, who cover themselves in Band-Aids and sing off key, who squeeze the toothpaste all over the sink, who slurp their soup.

But we are also responsible for those who never get dessert, who have no safe blanket to drag behind them, who watch their parents watch them suffer, who can’t find any bread to steal, who don’t have any rooms to clean up, whose pictures aren’t on anybody’s dresser, whose monsters are real.

We are responsible for children who spend all their allowance before Tuesday, who throw tantrums in the grocery store and pick at their food, who like ghost stories, who shove dirty clothes under their bed and never rinse out the tub, who get visits from the tooth fairy, who don’t like to be kissed in front of the car pool, who squirm in church and scream on the phone, whose tears we sometimes laugh at and whose smiles can make us cry.

And we are responsible of those whose nightmares come in the daytime, who will eat anything, who haven ever seen a dentist, who aren’t spoiled by anyone, who go to bed hungry and cry themselves to sleep, who live and move but have no being.

We are responsible for children who want to be carried and for those who must, for those we never give up on and for those who don’t get a second chance.

For those we smother . . . and for those who will grab the hand of anybody kind enough to offer.

By Ina Hughes

My Multicultural and Bilingual Class

This year, I am teaching fourth grade and because we are departmentalized, I have two classes. In my homeroom class, I have 22 students, 2 of which speak Hindi (as well as English), and 2 of which speak Spanish. In my afternoon class, I have 20 students and 8 languages represented, including Korean, Chinese, Taiwanese, Vietnamese, Bulgarian, Urdu, Spanish, and English of course. How incredible is that?

So, earlier this week, we were walking down the hall, and because we are still practicing hallway procedures, our line was pretty crooked. One of the kids commented that we look like a snake, and quietly to herself, another student said, “culebra”. Knowing that she spoke Spanish, I asked her if that was the Spanish word for snake. Another student quickly asked if she could tell me how to say snake in her native language, and the rest of the class was immediately intrigued.

When we got back into the classroom, we learned how to say snake in 6 languages. (My Vietnamese speaker couldn’t remember.)

We did the best to spell the words just like they sounded to us. (Most of my students were unsure how to write in their native language except for our Korean speakers… but Korean writing has to be translated into letters for us to understand anyway.)

SNAKE
Spanish – culebra
Bulgarian – smeeva
Urdu – somp
Korean – bim
Taiwanese and Chinese – suh

I am so excited to see what else we will learn, not just about these languages, but also about these cultures.

Six Word Memoirs

I just read a post over at thereadingzone that reminded me of an idea I heard this summer. I love this idea and I would like to use it with my fourth graders later in the year, after I have worked with them quite a bit in writing. Has anyone else tried this idea?

YA Books to Read

Operation Yes by Sara Lewis Holmes
Savvy
The Envy Series

Stumbled upon a cute kiddo story…

This afternoon, while I was sitting by the window listening to the rain falling outside, and relishing every minute of my I-don’t-have-to-work-because-it’s-summer lazy day, I spent some time catching up on some of my favorite blogs.

I stumbled upon this story which definitely had my giggling and even (dare I say), missing some of my kiddos from last year.

Man, I love kids.

How about a T for thinking?

Today, while reading Mechanically Inclined by Jeff Anderson, this short story got me thinking:

The picture has a dallop of peanut butter on one edge, a smear of grape jelly on the other, and an X across the whole thing. I cut it out of a magazine for homework when I was six years old. “Look for words that begin with W,: my teacher, Mrs. Evans, had said.

She was the one who marked the X, spoiling my picture. She pointed, “This is a picture of family, Hollis. A mother, M, a father, F, a brother, B, a sister, S. They’re standing in front of their house, H. I don’t see a W word here.”

I opened my mouth to say: How about a W for wish, or a W for want, or a W for “Wouldn’t it be loverly,” like the song the music teacher had taught us?

But Mrs. Evans was at the next table by that time, shushing me over her shoulder.
-Written by Patricia Reilly Giff, Pictures of Hollis Woods
Published in Mechanically Inclined by Jeff Anderson, Chapter 3

This story reminds me of another one a friend of mine told me the other day. A little boy said something like, “My mommy is a fish.” Confused, his teacher tried to figure out what he meant. Eventually the child confided (again, something along the lines of), “My fish died and my Daddy says my Mommy is dying.”

Sometimes, kids see things so much more intelligently than we do. More importantly, sometimes they just see things differently than we expected them to. There is beauty in that. And if we make assumptions about their thinking, or only take one answer as the right one, not only do we crush their spirits with our big X’s, but we teach them not to think.

This is one of those lessons I hope that I keep with me for the rest of my teaching career. It’s also one that I think can define a teacher; that is whether or not they adhere to it.

Abydos Update

I finished the Abydos training last week and I am already excited about implementing everything that I learned into my classroom. (Actually, let’s be honest, I’ll do my best to use MOST of what I learned… there’s never quite enough time to use EVERYTHING that we learn.)

Anyway, as part of our training, we had to write a reflexive piece and an extensive piece. Then, we had to send the extensive piece off for publication. I’ll be sharing both pieces on my blog eventually. My reflexive piece is about favorite childhood memories and I’d like to read it to my family before I post it here.

My extensive piece is a letter to cancer. There’s a bit of an interesting story here. My best friend works for Northwestern Mutual and his boss has been battling his son’s cancer for a couple of years now. (Chain of people = confusing, I know.) My friend shared with me a letter that his boss wrote giving an update on his son’s current condition. Immediately it pulled on my heart strings and I found myself experiencing that all-to-familiar anger towards cancer. (See my other blog for info on my half-marathon for TNT.) As I was sitting there with tear-filled eyes, I remembered seeing a tweet (twitter update) from the American Cancer Society that there was a company that would donate $10 for every letter written to cancer and submitted to their website. Naturally, I channeled my emotions and wrote a letter which was posted to their website. (Click here to see my letter. Click here to write your own.)

Meanwhile, I had been working on an extensive piece that related to my previous year of teaching and some experiences I had and for many reasons, it just wasn’t coming together. My deadline was approaching. I thought to myself, “It’s not like anyone would actually publish this, but even if they said yes, I don’t want this piece published”. So, I revisted my letter to cancer, did some editing, added some cancer research, and finalized it. After searching the internet for places to publish it, I decided to send it to CURE Magazine as an inspirational piece.

I very much doubt that it will get published, and I will not be let down if it doesn’t. Next year, I will get to share with my students that I have been through the process and hopefully they will see that anyone, not just “professional writers”, can be published. Plus, I get to say I’ve done it before. I’m all about trying new things… especially when they involve challenging myself.

Once I hear back from the magazine, I will share that piece with you as well.