Wednesday, November 3, 2010

How's It Going?

It's hard to start typing. I need a good lead. The ninth grade English class is writing memoirs and I have been "conferencing" them. There maybe I got my lead.

"How's it going?"

I spent several summers in the nineties going to the Reading and Writer's workshop at Teacher's College and the Ralph Fletcher line "How's it going?" kind of sums it all up. If anything I learned to listen and look at kids and their work instead of pulling out an editing tool literal or figurative and making vast changes.

Here is where I think I could make a metaphor about change and administration and the sorry state of the "Inquiry" process at school- but I use this blog to write about kids.

So how was it going? It's going.

Ninth grader number one wrote about a time he got injured in science class. I was in that class. I wrote about that moment in time too- I called mine accident report 9995.
Nonetheless it was a solid piece of writing and I could see the event unfold yet again before my eyes.

Ninth grader number two wrote about a time her best friend "stabbed" her in the back and stole her boyfriend. Her memoir began with a line like: "Can you remember the time you first realized you couldn't trust someone you thought was your friend?"
Yes I can.
Teenage angst- a plot worthy of Glee. I love Glee- I would have been glued to the tv for that episode.

Ninth grader number three wrote about the day his mother passed. "I am so sorry for your loss," I began, "are you sure you want to talk about it?"

"No," ninth grade repled, "I want to write about it."


And it was a beautiful piece, "the hardest day of my life" he explained. Yeah- like I was forty with a husband and two kids when my mom died and it was the hardest day of my life.

It was the kind of piece I would have like to written- full of heart-wrenching emotion and love and family strength. By the end of the period I was crying-I asked the author if he would like me to set up time with the counselor to talk.

"No I'm okay now I live with my sister who loves me and takes care of me."

Period over I grabbed the tissues and went on to the tenth grade. They make me cry too, but for far more mundane reasons. Their lives are hard. They take it out on the teaching staff.

Perhaps they need a better way to tell their stories.

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