Slice of Life Tuesday: Joining the circle

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We came to the writing circle last Friday with our “100 Word Spooky Stories”, eager to turn off the lights, share our stories, and have us a little Halloween party.  Before everyone settled in, we made sure to invite K. – our classmate who had moved from Japan just before the start of the school year.  K. is learning English slowly; he is a part of our class, but he is working on his language skills with the help of our school’s ESL teacher.  Every single one of my sixth graders is hyper aware of the courage it takes for K. to come to school every day, where he is surrounded by the exuberant babble of middle schoolers.  He listens carefully, translates what we say into Japanese, then composes a response in Japanese which he must translate back into English before he can speak or write. K’s OLW is dedication – he wants to dedicate himself to learning English – and we see this every day.

So, we made sure that K. was in our writing circle, even though he did not have a spooky story to share.

Soon, the storytelling began.  There were oooh’s and yelps and arghs  as the flashlight was passed from student to student.  We were enjoying the stories, the fellowship, being collectively scared.  When the student next to K. finished and was ready to pass the flashlight on, K. spoke up,  “I have a story we tell in Japan. It is a scary story. Can I share?”

All eyes to me. K. had never spoken up in class.  This was the most he had ever said!  Of course he could share!

So, K. took the flashlight, positioned himself so that everyone could see, and told us the story.  We oohed and yelped and arghed.  We clapped. But mostly, we were so glad that K. had joined the circle.

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22 thoughts on “Slice of Life Tuesday: Joining the circle

  1. How wonderful! It sounds like you and your class are making K feel comfortable enough to join in. I can not imagine going to another country where I don’t speak the language and being asked to learn in school-such courage indeed.

  2. Hurrah. This speaks so beautifully of the community you’ve built already, Tara. How wonderful to hear this. FYI-I have a statue just like your picture, on my patio table! We’ve talked about it meaning family & friends together, & now you’ve broadened the meaning for me. Love it!

  3. It takes such courage to learn a new language and to be in middle school, but putting them together at the same time must be daunting for poor K. I’m so glad he has landed in such a supportive environment.

  4. First of all – what great writing activity! I will have to remember this or maybe even revamp it into a Christmas story. What a lovely story about your student. My daughter had a student from Japan in her class when she was second grade. He also could not speak any English. What an anxious time of learning!

  5. Like others have said, the sense of community that has been built in your classroom – it’s something you should feel proud about! What a safe learning environment you have created!

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