So often I wrestle with being in the moment rather than trying to immobilize it as much as immortalize it. Does a view need me to pull out my camera or just breathe deep and look long? Will I later regret it if I don’t write it down when I only have the feeling left and not the exact words?
Often, I am holding a camera. Often when I listen, I write. Part of me believes it is how I process. Part of me wants to hold fast to what seems important. To be able to look again, consider again, contemplate.
My students know this about me. They are accustomed to me usually having a camera in one hand. “Picture this!” they call. “Can you picture this?” they ask. I don’t know how “picture” in our room became a verb in this way but it has and I find it so charming, that I never correct it. And usually, I oblige and do in fact picture whatever it is they are asking me to capture. Strangely, they rarely ask me to show them the photographs I take. It seems enough to bring worth to their moment or creation just to have me pause and click. They smile and move on.
They also know when I stop in the middle of a lesson and gasp or laugh or just begin to slowly nod that soon I will begin looking around. If I can’t quickly lay hands on paper and pencil, they will leap up to provide it. I scribble down their words and their wisdom so frequently. I have little scraps everywhere. In the pockets of my favourite sweaters, stuffed between pages of the novel we are reading, all over the table where I throw things from the day. Some of these papers I carry from place to place, not quite knowing what to finally do. How to share. What to think. How to let them go. They seem to need to go further from me and out into the world. Some of these words end up here on this blog. Some get pinned to a board. Stuck with a magnet to the old science locker behind my table where I hang my coat and place my things each day.
Children can be wiser than all of us. I walk around my room as if I am on a pebble beach, collecting the stones that catch my eye. Later, I find the perfect spot to place each rock, even if I don’t pick it up for months and months. Even if it sits forever in a jar, I know it is there.
I have been walking around with one little yellow note for weeks. On it I have written the words of a seven year old boy in my room said during our weekly gratitude circle. Today, I put them here. To share with you.
“I am grateful for stuff we need. And respect. And family.”
Because you didn’t hear him speak, you missed the silence all around him. The depth of his voice. How he held so much space. How he seemed older than anyone for one large and profound moment.
Now I can fold away the yellow paper. I have shared this moment, beyond our room, beyond me. I have placed this smooth stone on a shelf. I know where it is if I need it.
I am participating in the Slice of Life challenge to write and publish a post every day in March.
Slice of Life is hosted by Two Writing Teachers. I thank them for the community they provide. Read more slices here.
Your classroom sounds like a wonderful place to be! I love the idea of a gratitude circle.You are teaching your students to be in the moment and to marvel and to reflect and to notice and to be grateful. And that…is just as important as anything.
Our weekly gratitude circle is a very beautiful thing. I learn a lot from listening to what the children share.
“I have placed this smooth stone on a shelf…” Love that image and how it brought me back to my collections of memories (shells and stones and bits of interesting things) I keep in a few blocky glass jars. Kids are brilliant and luminous and wise. We are ao lucky to spend such time with them!
We really are.
You capture your classroom so beautifully. Purposeful and calm. Observant and active. Respectful and collaborative. I think this is an amazing example of the power of formative assessment. Your students know you are watching and you are using what you see and hear to create a community of learners. They are taking risks, pushing themselves and supporting each other. They expect you to be watching, writing and capturing their brilliance – and so they give you brilliance day after day. Truly inspiring!
Clare, thank you for such a wonderful comment. It truly made me so happy. I had wanted to share these words from my student, and when I sat down yesterday – this is the post that happened. I wasn’t sure if it would resonate or not with others – so your comment really means a lot to me.
I love the comparison of those worded snippets to pebbles on a beach. I have friends who collect agates, and your consideration of your students’ thoughts makes me picture my friends holding those agates up to the sunlight, exposing their beauty. Your classroom sounds like a wonderful place to grow and learn!
We all grow and learn here. I think, some days, maybe, me most of all.
This post had a great impact on me…. enough said.
Thank you Vanessa.
Carrie, every day your writing just lifts me up. Can I just move into your classroom? Such a warm and supportive home away from home with so much respect and care between teachers and students. Your ability to capture the essence of your classroom is amazing. And I really want to move right in … With my own little scraps and pictures to capture. Sigh. Thank you for all the glimpses in your loving room.
Yes, please, move in!
I’m with Michelle. I’m packing my bags tonight! (Though I’d have a 160 pound stowaway in my son, I think!) This piece of writing has lifted me up all day. Thank you.
There is room for you both!
Well, prepare for guest #3! A lovely and moving moment to treasure forever .
I think I should start making coffee! 🙂
Thank you for sharing his wise words along with your wonderfully-written slice. I love the catch-all table…every class room needs one; and I could “picture” you and your students interacting because your details are so clear.
Thanks so much Lori. I think sometimes I need about 3 catch all tables. This is why I don’t have a desk because I would just dump everything there all the time!
I love that you are capturing stories all around the classroom, but even more that your students know it, too, and offer paper and pen for you. They are helpers, and then I suspect that the boy who shared such serious words knows it too, and rises up to share heart-felt words. Your actions have the most loving reactions, just what we want in all teachers.
Some of these children truly amaze me in what they share and how wise and beyond their years they seem.
this is so beautiful. all of it. how you captured it and held it. and how you put it out there. and how you let it go. ❤
Thank you Gae! How lovely to see you visiting here today!