It was quite a day yesterday, one that was cut into tiny, tiny slices; I'm actually happy it is over. As I said above, I enjoyed the twitter chat from everyone here, but the day itself was filled to the brim. I hoped to write a long post about the first days of school, but it will be brief today, sharing only one thing that became so important to me in the first days of school.
While even from the first day, I wanted my class to know that this would be a reading and writing year, even more I wanted them to realize that they were the ones that would be driving the year. I taught a mix of 6th, 7th and 8th graders and many of you know that personal choice is a top priority for all of our students, K through 8. One of the things I did on the first day was to share a poem or a poetic quote to help us leap into the year. I gave each student a copy, they taped it into their writers' notebooks, and then responded to it. In that response, I asked them to make one secret and very personal goal for the year. Although I never knew what those particular goals were, I would re-visit students once in a while to ask how they were doing with it, and if there was something I could provide that would help reach the goal? Obviously, it involved a lot of trust. There were other times that students created goals that I did know about, but I always felt that trusting that they could work to reach a goal secretly was inspiring and empowering.
Here are two poems I used often, both by Eve Merriam: "Metaphor" and "Thumbprint", pushing at the concept of Tabula Rasa, or "clean slate" and the uniqueness of each person. You can find them on the web easily, and I suspect many of you already know them. There are so many others that might fit you and your class, but these two are favorites of mine. And here is another, some call a poem and others name it a quote, author unknown. It's inspiring to me, too, every time I read it. It calls for courage, venturing into the unknown, just what each student does every year.
Don't you agree that they're brave?
As you journey through life,
choose your destinations well,
but do not hurry there.
You will arrive soon enough.
Wander the back roads and forgotten
keeping your destination
like the fixed point of a compass.
Seek out new voices, strange sights,
and ideas foreign to your own.
Such things are
riches for the soul.
And if, upon arrival,
you find that your destination
is not exactly as you had dreamed,
do not be disappointed.
Think of all you would have missed
but for the journey there.
and know that the true worth
of your travels lies not in where
you come to be at journey’s end,
but in who you come to be
along the way.
Best wishes as you all begin your journeys this school year if you are still educators. If not, the wishes go to you as well in your own unique journeys.