Listening during the in-between: Slice of Life #2

Listening during the in-between: Slice of Life #2

Most of my day is noisy. Kids make strange sounds I don’t really understand the purpose of. Chatter winds up to a not necessary volume. The class next door thunders down the stairs. Transitions happen where everyone is talking and nobody is moving. There are also the meaningful conversations that are full of passion and questions and gasping and talking over to be heard. Loud.

Or it’s completely quiet. We breathe together as part of our mindfulness practice. There are silent moments during a read aloud where everyone feels everything and nobody breathes at all. Only flipping pages can be heard when we are all lost in our books.  Peace.

There is usually no in between. It’s all about revving up or calming it down. I try to navigate us back to at least a quiet hum. Not always successfully.

Noisy days broken up by quiet moments. This is the rhythm of school.

It’s not often I get to have a tiny conversation with just one child. When I do, it feels like a stolen moment. Extra precious. It’s like the loud and the quiet stop. The noise in the room is irrelevant. It’s all about the one child telling me a little piece of his or her truth.

I listen especially carefully. Things that are shared with me are gifts. I accept each one as such. The words are only a few sentences in total. What I learn goes way beyond.

You are usually pretty nice to me,” one little guy tells me quite often. I take this to mean that he feels safe in our room. He has a pretty regular litany of complaints about all the people who were mean or who didn’t have manners or might have asked him to do something in the wrong way. If I could, I would wrap him in a box marked “Fragile. Handle with care.” I wear my pretty nice badge with pride.

What is shared is often told with a bent head and a hushed tone. It’s private. Just for me.

I read my book last night at home. Two chapters.  It was really noisy. But I found a way to do it. I whispered the words to myself and then I could only hear the book.” I know how big this is for this child who so wants to read at home but can never find a quiet space in her noisy house. My suggestions would have been meaningless. She found her own way.

I love when they tell me things in dreamy ways.

I can’t wait until we read the novel again. How can that Mom even be like that? I wish there was a way to really actually save a book character. I wish we could.” We are reading The War That Saved my Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley and my students are so completely appalled by the abusive nature of Ada’s mother. I am not surprised that this book is occupying their thoughts. I am touched that they share it with me. I am thrilled that books are bringing us to places where our empathy for others grows.

I feel blessed that I get to listen. Lucky that they share. I wait for what is told to me in the in-between places.

Bad Irony: Slice of Life

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.

 

21 thoughts on “Listening during the in-between: Slice of Life #2

  1. “I whispered the words to myself and then I could only hear the book.” — I love this line. Thank you for sharing your students’ wisdom with us. Listening to readers is so important. Your kids are lucky to have you!!!

  2. You had me from the unexplained noises and noisy but motionless transitions! This is such a rich slice and I so enjoyed listening in to your conversations with your students. This is my favorite line: “If I could, I would wrap him in a box marked “Fragile. Handle with care.”

  3. This:I wait for what is told to me in the in-between places.
    I think these are my favorite moments, too – just because they are so unexpected, and fleeting. We make the deepest connections in these in between places.

  4. I have a friend who is slicing for the first time this month and I told her that one of my go to slicers is you. I am always in awe of the way you put words together. You have found a way to convey those special quiet words in a too busy, loud day.

  5. Thank you for this beautiful reflection on teaching. I have so many favorite lies, but will include this – “It’s like the loud and the quiet stop. The noise in the room is irrelevant. It’s all about the one child telling me a little piece of his or her truth.” Confiding truths with another takes trust. Your piece had a beautiful balance of reflection and truth. Thanks for being such an intuitive teacher who values the art of relationship.

  6. I love the feelings you evoke in me with your words. I can hear the noise, I can feel the quiet. I loved the poetry of “I whispered the words to myself and then I could only hear the book.” That is the beauty of reading. Thank you for sharing this stolen moment with us.

  7. I love the idea of in-between places — I have been thinking a lot about the concept of space lately — having space, creating space, needing space. Your post made me think about space as an in-between place. I have to think more about it. I have a feeling you are more than “usually nice.” Also – thanks for your post yesterday. It was the nudge I needed to take on the challenge this month!
    Clare

  8. Carrie- this is beautiful, especially when you say, “I love when they tell me things in dreamy ways.” Your kiddos have built a relationship with you that is more important than any curriculum. It’s funny how you talk about the “in between”-that has been a focus of mine this school year…observing and noticing the “non-teaching” moments in classrooms as insight into my teaching and their learning. This is perfect for me to revisit and reflect on ! I love your posts.

  9. “It’s all about revving up or calming it down” I love that you said this. It makes me feel like we are in the same classroom. And those stolen moments. Yes. The noisy home life. Yes. Love being with you in your classroom. Thanks for opening the door.

  10. As a staff we are reading “The War That Changed My Life” for our book club and I can’t wait to hear the reactions. My 4th graders and I just finished “Rain Reign” we cried together on two different days, and it has been glorious.

  11. I’m glad you are the teacher who understands the meaningful words, Carrie. They don’t teach this in “teacher” school. Words that are said mean that child wants someone (you) to hear them.

  12. Watching, listening, noticing allows you to savor all that your students have to bring to you. I’m with the child who wants to save the character. That mother was despicable! Loved that book!

  13. Wow, this is beautiful. Really, really beautiful. The image of that boy in a box marked Fragile will stay with me. And the way you describe the alternating spaces of loud versus a hushed quiet. Simply beautiful.

    Side note – The War That Saved My Life was incredible. Please tell your students I felt the EXACT same way. I have never before wanted to climb into the pages of a book and rescue someone so strongly.

  14. It is so obvious to me that you have worked hard to make your classroom a safe place for not only learning, but growing as a person. You exemplify kindness.
    Reading The War the Saved my Life got the same reaction in my class. I am glad my students do not know that level of cruelty.

  15. “The class next door thunders down the stairs.” I’m amazed at how much noise a class makes going up and down stairs. We didn’t have stairs where and when I taught, but now I sub and when we go to the library, it’s like I’m leading a herd of horses. Up or down, the noise is enormous. Love this beautiful slice of the noisy, the quiet, and the in-between places.

  16. “I wait for what is told to me in the in-between places.” Oh, what a precious story. THE WAR THAT SAVED MY LIFE is powerful, and your student is clearly impacted. I love that you took the time to listen and that you’re “pretty nice”. 🙂

  17. I love those moment of in-between. You, as you do in your way, described those moments so eloquently. I’m going to listen a little closer tomorrow.

  18. “I read my book last night at home. Two chapters. It was really noisy. But I found a way to do it. I whispered the words to myself and then I could only hear the book.” — MY HEART. Such a great moment for you and that student. Love love love love love.

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