a quote from my favorite author

“The most solid advice, though, for a writer is this, I think: Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive, with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell, and when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.”

-William Saroyan, The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze

Saturday, February 8, 2014

in which I CELEBRATE (in a roundabout way)

celebrate with Ruth and friends
This week was our first full week of school since December. The thought of five full days of instruction had me excited. I was sure I would finally get a sense of momentum. I was certain I would finally feel productive. 

I was wrong. 

Instead, I was battling lethargy, apathy, and even outright defiance. All week I left school with a little voice in my head saying, “This is not working.” All week I walked to my car wondering why I felt bedraggled, when the students bounded out of the building with more energy than I had seen all day. All week my brain chewed on this problem, hoping to spit out solutions.

By Tuesday, A (a student with whom I had never had more than the regular, run-of-the-mill, get-back-to-your-assigned-seat-you-eighth-grade-boy-immediately-after-lunch kind of issues) and I ended up battling each other. It was one of those ugly, I-have-no-idea-how-we-got-here moments. I would’ve thought I was completely crazy and had created the battle myself, if I didn’t have lovely, supportive, humorous students like J (who kindly murmured under his breath to A, “You have three lifelines left,” as a nudge to accept one of the opportunities I had offered to end the battle without losing face). 

I finally convinced A and his accomplice to come to lunch to try to work out a solution and avoid consequence for his disrespectful actions. Another staff member, who A seems to respect, joined us at lunch to lend support. However, lunch held no signs of having made an impact. So, my colleague took time during her plan period to follow-up. Still, there were no signs that she had gotten through to A. 

Then Friday happened. 

One of my very unreasonable demands as an authority figure is that A not sit by his friends during reading. The choice to sit near his friends is a choice not to seriously engage in reading. Friday, A moved to a private cubby under the counter. The choice was a positive sign. 

I approached him to record his page number and check-in with him regarding his progress. He has been reading and enjoying Lockdown by Alexander Gordon Smith. However, I noticed Lockdown facedown on the floor next to him. I peeked into the cubby, afraid I would find A was not reading at all. 

Instead, I saw my tattered copy of Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends propped against his legs. He looked up from the book to catch my eye. My face held the question as I looked back and forth from Lockdown to the book he held.  

“This book called to me today,” he said. No further explanation was needed. I smiled.
There is something about the boyish innocence of escaping into the poetry of Shel Silverstein that tells me all is right with the world. Today I celebrate.

Next week is going to be a good week. Surely I will feel a sense of momentum. Without a doubt I will feel productive.

And even if I don’t…I will find reason to celebrate.


  1. An 8th grade boy reading Shel Silverstein because it called to him - definitely cause for celebration. I've had some wild behavior lately, chalked up to Super Bowl Mania. Here's to a better week for all!

  2. Finding the celebration from the not-what-you-hoped-for week allows a positive closure. I read your daily prompts - I celebrate these.

  3. Encountered some of the same problems. In my room it resulted in a seating arrangement for a few weeks. We need to get back to NORMALCY!

  4. You have mastered the art of finding the hope in the futile and the celebration in the frustration. Your students are lucky to have you, Ms. Rush!