Slice of Life Tuesday: Good stuff vs. regular stuff

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It was pitch black,  bitterly cold, windy and bleak when I reluctantly set out for school on Monday.  Winter Break was now a thing of the past, and all I could think about was how much I already missed it.  I felt more in tune with my sixth graders as I was driving (who were, no doubt, just as reluctantly getting ready for school at that very moment), than the mature, seasoned educator that I was supposed to be.

The classroom looked just as it did when I’d shut the lights off and locked the door on December 23rd., down to the whiteboard still covered with holiday messages. I guess our custodian didn’t have the heart to erase all those wishes for “happy holidays and an awesome break!” that stretched from one end to the other.  Reluctantly, I cleaned off the board and began getting ready for my kids.

Marcy was the first one in.  She didn’t bound in as she usually does…she shuffled in.  Instead of her usual, peppy greetings, she sighed and muttered, “I’m sad.”  No further explanations were necessary.  Soon, she was followed by the rest of my morning class – each one just as dejected and tired as the next.

“Back to regular stuff,” one student said.

“Yeah,” another sighed, “regular stuff.”

It was going to be a rough Monday.

After our morning announcements, I took one look around the room and knew I had to do something. Clearly, a mini lesson on types of feature articles was going to fall flat as the proverbial pancake. Looking around the room, I had a feeling that I knew exactly what was on each kiddo’s mind: winter break memories, winter break fun.

So, all of us, including me, pulled out our writer’s notebooks and got to work writing them down, capturing them before the little bits we wanted to hang on to the most had wafted away just like the snowflakes outside our window, melting into forgetful oblivion.  The room was silent as we scribbled away.  I glanced up briefly and spied my kids smiling to themselves as they wrote.  Even Marcy.  She looked up and caught my glance, and then broke into a wide grin.

“Happy?” I asked.

“Yeah, I’m happy!” she said,  “so much good stuff happened over break!”

Sometimes, you just have to write about all that good stuff before you can get on with the regular stuff.  So, we did.

johnbarrymore105535

 

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28 thoughts on “Slice of Life Tuesday: Good stuff vs. regular stuff

  1. I love how you are teaching by example that writing can heal the heart. You are making life-long writers. What a joy! Did you give them share time, too. For my students, I had to give them each a few minutes to share. I asked the question, “What did you read over the break?” and our conversations headed off into all kinds of directions.

  2. Every time I read one of your posts, Tara, I think, “I wish I was a kid in Tara’s room.” This Slice was no exception. In your room, the regular stuff becomes the good stuff.

  3. Tara,
    You are so wise! What a joy to write about the special moments so they can be preserved in student notebooks as well as hearts! Further proof that our kids cannot just “shake off” the previous 18 hours (or more in the case of Winter Break)!

    (Too funny! I had to write Sunday even if it was more of a "listy" write! In my case I knew that I would forget it if I didn't "ink it"!

  4. Claire today spoke to something about this, figuring out that it’s sometimes best to ditch a decision when it’s clear it isn’t going to work. Your post is the perfect example. Our first conversation was about the wonder of break. Then we cleaned the room, straightened desks, threw away old markers. It seemed to put a new light on what we all thought was a challenge. Then we started talking about the work. Best wishes in all this weather, Tara!

  5. Wise move Tara. As so many have said, you captured the quintessential teachable moment. It is so hard to come back . You have a very short break! We are still out and as much as I love the extra time, it is too long away. I benefit from your words though. Reminds me of the reality of sad that I will face soon.
    Julieanne

  6. It really was bittersweet to go back on Monday. Almost half of my students were also absent so alternative plans were made. Flexibility might be the word for this winter.

  7. Going with the needs of the students not with the fixed plans – this how it should be. The change in plans was good for individuals and for the learning community.

  8. And who said it doesn’t work to get kids to write about “The holidays”! I guess it depends on how you go about it. I’m sure they had a lot of fun recalling and sharing those memories. I’m pleased the day brightened up for all. I love Barrymore’s quote you have shared. Best wishes for the rest of days. 🙂

  9. Nicely done, Tara. You remind me of our family’s “Good Things Jar,” where we jot down things we are happy about, and then we read them at the end of the year. Sometimes they are about something important, like a contest someone won, and sometimes they are “it’s snowing” or “the printer worked.”

  10. I adore the responsiveness here. How you were so “in tune” with your students, you knew exactly what to do. Isn’t the reading and the writing that truly bring us together and give us those moments? This is a great slice about what happens on that first day back.

  11. Sometimes the regular just has to be set aside. It’s so wonderful that you knew yourself and your kids well enough to do what you and they needed more than the regular stuff!

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