Poetry Friday is hosted by Heidi Mordhorst @ My Juicy Little Universe
When my children were still in school, and in the days before everything was online and just a click away, the last Thursday of the last week of August was momentous. This was the day when we would jump eagerly into our mini van and race over to the elementary school to checkout the class rosters posted on the main door; this was the day when my kids would learn the all-important, must-know bit of information that would determine so much of the shape of their new school year – who their classroom teacher was to be.
Our rides back home would be filled with conversations about these teachers: what had you heard about him/her from friends? what had you observed about this person as you had made your way through the earlier grades? what did you know you had to look out for – good and/or bad? By the time we’d arrived back home, each of my kids would have already formed a stance about what their new school year would be like, an impression of the long months of school life ahead, based just on this one piece of information: who their teacher was.
On Wednesday, alerted by a colleague, I opened up my 2016-2017 grade book and read through the names listed on my student rosters: morning block and afternoon block, there they were…the names of the children who I would be spending my teaching year with. Somewhere in the suburban New Jersey town in which I teach, I thought, these kids were also discovering my name…they were forming an impression of what their sixth grade year in reading,writing, and social studies would be. School has not yet begun, but they are ready, now, to take their first stance as sixth graders, as “Smithlings”.
What would I want them to know at this moment? What do I want them to believe about the learning year to come?
I want them to be like the Galileo Galilei in Jane Kenyon’s poem below – intent on finding their own truths in the work we do, invested in discovering their own answers, unafraid to be finical.
Learning in the First Grade by Jane Kenyon
“The cup is red. The drop of rain
is blue. The clam is brown.”
So said the sheet of exercises–
purple mimeos, still heady
from the fluid in the rolling
silver drum. But the cup was
not red. It was white,
or had no color of its own.
Oh, but my mind was finical.
It put the teacher perpetually
in the wrong. Called on, however,
I said aloud: “The cup is red.”
“But it’s not,” I thought,
like Galileo Galilei
muttering under his beard….