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.
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.