Monday was to be a big day in Writing Workshop. We’ve been working (and working, and working!) on memoirs, and we were finally ready to publish – a writing celebration! We love writing celebrations in our classroom – good things to eat, stories to share and giggle over, writing to savor. The sign up sheet was posted on the easel on Friday, and lots of kids signed up – when I checked at the end of class, we had everything from food to napkins all taken care of.
This morning, I arrived early to set up – to get the compliment sheets ready, set up our “table of goodies” complete with table cloth, and make sure we were ready to go when writing workshop began. As my kids drifted in, they made their way to the table with their contributions before taking off for their first period classes. I left to make copies of our compliments sheets, and by the time I’d returned period one was underway. But something just did not look right…the table was bare!
We had napkins, plates and cups – but nothing to eat or drink! I checked the sign up sheet on the easel – yes, kids had signed up to bring bagels and muffins and juice. Somewhere between Friday and Monday, however, these kids had forgotten that they had made these commitments. We still had 20 minutes left in the period – I could conceivably race down the street to Dunkin Donuts and save the day. But…it just did not feel right to do so.
Every day, it seems, we have kids who forget their homework, lunch money, whatever, and Mom or Dad has to hurry over to save the day. This is the age of helicopter parents, and our kids just expect that someone will save their day. As a sixth grade teacher, the gateway to middle school, I wage a constant tug of war with my kids – yes I am here to help you, but you must do your part. So, I looked upon that sad, empty table…and just left things as they were. I did take down the sign up sheet, though – I just knew that would be trouble.
My kids charged in when the bell rang, eager to get going with the celebration – and one, by one, they came to the realization – no food!!! I didn’t have to say anything, they just knew. So – our writing celebration got off to a subdued start. Bit by bit, my kids started to put the glorious feast they had anticipated out of their minds, and focus instead on the true purpose of the celebration – sharing and enjoying each others’ writing. Soon, there was laughter back in our room, and the sounds of voices commenting and reading – we did manage to celebrate after all….
As we were filing away our work and assembling our portfolios, however, one of the “leaders” in our room asked me when I thought our next writing celebration would be. Two weeks from now, I surmised – we are working on the first of two units in digital storytelling next. Would I give her the names of people who had signed up to bring stuff she wondered, she’d like to be able to text them a friendly reminder – emphasis on friendly, she assured me.
No problem, kiddo, I responded – take charge!