Mary Lee, one of two amazing teacher bloggers over at A Year of Reading, recently wrote about the frantic pace and steep climb of the first six weeks of school. She likes swimming metaphors. I like climbing metaphors. I totally agree with her observations. The first six weeks are such hard work. I've sometimes compared our teaching of routines and structures during this critical time as similar to pushing on a huge stationary round stone and slowly getting it rolling. The initial effort is backbreaking, but once you get that stone rolling, it'll have a lot of momentum to carry itself forward. And if you aren't vigilant and thoughtful during this sensitive time, you might have a huge stone rolling in the wrong direction.
We had our first Publication Party yesterday. It was incredible. All twenty-six of my students had amazing stories that they stood up and read in a group that included twelve of their peers, two or three parent guests, and two or three school staff members. Each circle of "readings" was facilitated by a carefully selected sixth grader. We rehearsed for the event on Thursday and also talked, (and talked and talked,) about trust, courage, and respect. On Friday, in addition to sharing these slices of their lives, they were also very kind and gracious listeners.
Yesterday I added a new "lecture" to my ever growing repertoire. Here it is:
When you say to other girls things like, "You're going to have babies when you're young," or "Your mom probably had you when she was 19 or something," you are A) purposely hurting another girl, which isn't ok, and B) giving power to a very terrible idea. That terrible idea is that women should be judged by the choices we make about when to have babies. We (women and girls in this world) need to honor the fact that we all make different choices about when and how to become mothers. When you use those particular words to hurt another girl you are adding to the power of a belief that hurts lots and lots and lots of girls and women. We can make the choice to hold off a while on having babies, if that's what we decide for our own lives, without thinking that all people who decide to have babies when they are "young" are bad.
Maybe that's the book I should write. 50 Important Lectures for 11 and 12 year Old Kids.