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Baking Cake: Project 180, Day 107

The recipe.

1 table

2 chairs

1 teacher

1 student

2 Chromebooks

1 SBA Argumentative Rubric

1 “Things to think about” column

1 “Things to celebrate” column

2 pens

1 highlighter

29 other quietly engaged students

10 minutes

Result. Learning.

At a pace of roughly five conferences an hour, we set to baking learning cakes yesterday. And though the ingredients are mostly uniform from one cake to another, the most important ingredient, the student, makes each cake unique; there is no mold. And that makes for beautiful baking.

Said it a million times, and I’ll say it a million more: the most satisfying, the most impactful thing I do with kids is conferencing. It’s  also the most exhausting. It takes an immense amount of energy to sustain a dynamic dialogue–holding their eyes, pushing their limits, protecting their mindsets, honoring their persons–kid after kid, period after period, day after day. And at the end of those days, I am drained to my core. Yesterday, lingering as he oft does, Ralphe responded to my dramatic, out-loud, sigh as the room cleared for the day.

“Mr. Sy, I hope that conferencing doesn’t stress you out.”

No. No, Ralphe. It just wears me out. It makes me tired. But it’s a good tired.”

“Good. I’m glad. ‘Cause it’s important. That interaction.”

Yes, Ralphe. It is. It’s important.”

“See you, Mr. Sy.”

“See ya, Ralphey.”

Only one day in, and already I am so impressed with the kids’ letters to the Board–on both sides of the fence. Madison’s argument against the movies remaining in the curriculum was so compelling that I told her I was experiencing a tinge of guilt for showing the movies, and I also told her, in jest, that I was hesitant to send her letter to the Board in fear that they may side with her. But, for as many successful, hit-the-target letters that I read yesterday, there are many that are not quite there–yet. But they will be eventually.  And that is the beauty of the conference. It’s not only a celebration of arrival, but also, it’s equally a celebration of progress, of moving forward, of growth. Having “arrived” or not, I want each kid to feel their potential, to yearn for “yet,” because there’s always more road around the bend. We never really arrive. We chase next. We chase yet. Can’t imagine a better way to sell that to my kids than face-to-face.

Happy Wednesday, all.

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