Our first semester Writing Workshop came to an end a few weeks ago with a writing celebration (of course!). Even though I will still have these students for reading workshop and social studies, and even though we’ll continue to write together for the rest of the year, we will no longer meet during period two for Writing Workshop. I was sad…looking across my classroom at all my happy writers sharing their last writing pieces together in this way, I felt nostalgic for those weeks in which we met at the easel, studied our craft, oohed and aahed over mentor texts, and sweated through the writing process so that we could have the satisfaction of these celebrations.
As we started to clean up and file away our writing portfolios, one of my students asked to excuse himself. Soon, Mike was back with his gym bag. And before I could ask why he felt the need to bring his gym bag to class, Mike reached into it and extracted a beautiful bunch of lovely pink tulips, its stems swathed in damp paper towels – the better to survive its journey from home, to locker, to gym bag to writing teacher.
“This is for you, Mrs. Smith,” he said, with his usual cheerful smile, “for teaching me to like to write.”
In all my teaching days, I had never been presented with a gift quite like this, and in quite this way. I thought of Mike planning this out, and then schlepping the flowers to school. I thought of the care he took to make sure they would not wilt or bruise, and the delight with which he presented them — surprise!!! And I felt such affection and delight, too. Those tulips sat in a vase on my desk for the rest of the week – I smiled whenever I caught a glimpse of them, and I still smile at the memory of them. I’ll say it again…sixth graders are awesome….