What a Way to Start a Day

I woke up to several unexpected inbox items this morning, and happily, I can say the urge (read: overwhelming need) to use the bathroom 15 minutes before my alarm sounded gave me a chance to enjoy them before work. (Sorry for the borderline TMI there. Don’t turn away).

First of all, I was treated to a bevy of unexpected, unsolicited, blog comments. Okay, here, “bevy” means two, but I’ll take it. Most uplifting were the complimentary thoughts left by newbie blogger Gingersalad, who wrote,

“Hi! I admire your not-so-hearty liking of the educational system, your ingenious Mosaic project, and your genuine concern for your students. I wish I have teachers like you in my school. Ah well. But thank you, thank you from across the country, thank you for being a teacher who cares.” 

And, thank you, Gingersalad, for taking the time to so thoughtfully acknowledge what I’m trying to do. (Side note: check out the burgeoning blog, linked above. Looks like Ginger is feeling out what the focus of the blog will be, but there’s some good writing already up).

This reminded me of a colleague of mine (text-to-self connection!) who spent weeks preparing an ESL lesson for a dozen administrators, and later learned it was the best one seen that day (according to our principal). The way this intrepid teacher put it was along the lines of, “One compliment and suddenly I love being a teacher again.” In a profession where there is so much negativity, we live for the dangling carrot of sincere appreciation. It’s nice to know people out there still appreciate teachers! 

Next up for my review was an email from one of last year’s students, who experienced the Mosaic Project in all its seminal glory. She wrote to say that her sister is getting married and “l keep begging her to let me be her photogropher.” Okay, maybe the spelling remains the same, but it is wonderful to hear how much photography has become a part of her being. Her sister relented, because the email concludes with, “she said ok and i got so excited,because i love taking pictures”. This was particularly wonderful to read just a couple of days after writing here about how different – and not in a good way – this year’s Mosaic was going to be. Perhaps this year’s class is not getting quite the same experience, but maybe there’s a spark being kindled for their future.

Lastly, the published versions of what students were working on for the Mosaic Project (ie. “painting” a picture with words, rather than taking one with a camera as a way to project one’s image of the neighborhood) were due today. Only 15 came back (this class does have major issues with homework), but some of them were really sincere. They carried an almost nostalgic quality to them. Very deep for fifth graders. Here’s a sample (I’m attempting a foray into pseudo-pseudonyms, so let’s see if I can keep this straight):

Nick: “(My neighborhood) smells like fresh plants on a spring day…When I (run) as fast as a cheetah, the wind (feels) good like if I were flying with my wings spread out. In winter, I always play snowball fights. And the best part in winter is hot chocolate. When it’s fall, I invite my friends to come. We gather leaves chipperly.”

Leo: “The wind is just floating and it says nothing.”

Compatible Felicia: “It is so quiet that I could hear the air blowing.”

Esperanza: “I am humble about (my neighborhood). Some people might think it is grotesque, but to me, it’s a jewel. I consider people very unfortunate that they don’t have a neighborhood like mine.” (No, you haven’t tuned into NBC, despite the plethora of properly used Olympic words).

Bradley: “I don’t know why some people walk and some people drive…But if there were no cars, this neighborhood wouldn’t be the same. It would be too quiet, and I’m not used to that…Who ever made this neighborhood probably brags a lot because it’s like a jewel, so it’s too pretty to be humble about.”

Gladys: “There is a bakery on the corner of the street. Just filled with different kinds of scents. Like fresh cookies out of the oven. And the chocolate melting. And also like cheesecake and angel food cake. It’s heaven in there.”

Mighty Mouse: “In the summer…I will only think about should I stay home, drink cold water, and eat fruit? Or go buy ice cream in the hotness.”

Pinky: “I do feel safe and comfortable. It is where I originated. I don’t feel danger in my neighborhood because I know everyone in my neighborhood. Even though they don’t know me.”

Capt. Potential: “What I like about my neighborhood is when I wake up, I hear birds singing.”

Santa Claus: “I know my neighborhood blindfolded, no one knows more about this neighborhood more than I do…My neighborhood is sometimes scary, all lights off or gangs passing by and there’s a conflict between them. I avert them.”

Many of them used their Olympic words (which are working out much better than earlier in the week), as well as similes, and very few forced them in. We’re going for organic, and we’re getting organic!

Thanks for stopping by and checking in. Enjoy the weekend!

2 responses to “What a Way to Start a Day

  1. By sharing something you’re passionate about, you’ve given your students not only new ways of seeing themselves and their neighborhood, but you’ve given them a unique way to express that. It’s a shame projects like this aren’t allowed to be at the forefront of curriculums. And I love to see students trying out new language!!

  2. And you thought that the mosaic project was shattered and you weren’t reaching the kids. I’d say quite the opposite; the pieces of the current mosaic project are coming together and forming a different pattern. After reading what the children wrote I think:
    -their use of words is phenomenal,(is that a bronze, silver or gold word?),
    -their words are carefully chosen and well composed
    -their descriptions make their vision of their neighborhood come alive to the reader.
    Kudos to your students and kudos to you!!!

    How wonderful to read about the new wedding photographer. I’m sure that her love of photography combined with her love for her sister will produce some memorable results .

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