“Sy, I’m gonna make an executive decision.”
“Yes!” I exclaimed, jumping up from my desk, pumping my fist, reveling in Jaden’s words.” Truly, music to my ears, a testament to his ownership of his learning.
“I have to get this science paper done.”
“Oh,” I exhaled, quickly turning my disappointment inward, pausing long enough from my moments-ago exaltation to look at–to really see–Jaden. And, as I did, I saw the young man I have gotten to know these past few months in a state of stress, hand compulsively combing through his hair, eyes darting back and forth from his computer to my eyes taking measure of both, weighing his decision.
“Okay, Jade,” I smiled reassuringly. “You gotta do what you gotta do.” And I left him to his decision.
We had just set to work on our final day of writing and self-assessing descriptions when Jaden informed me of his choice. Of course my initial response was joy. I thought he had decided to scrap one of his descriptions and start over or something of that nature, so I was pleased to hear that he was embracing the creative process, which often necessitates starting over. But that was not it at all. It wasn’t even about my class. But it was about Jaden. And I care about Jaden more than I care about the content of my class. And when I found myself in my moment with him yesterday, I, too, had a choice, a choice that made me face myself as much as I had to face Jaden.
I often write about walking and talking, and so I felt I was in a place where I had a chance to walk my talk. I claim to care about kids. I claim to teach kids, not content. I claim to give kids ownership and responsibility over their learning. Yesterday, I believe I made good on those claims. And as with all decisions, there are consequences, there are costs. Yes, I am responsible for teaching English in room 211. No, Jaden didn’t get his descriptions done. Yes, he spent the hour working to get his science paper, not his LA paper, finished. Yes, other kids were witness to the exchange and may now expect the same response from me. And the list goes on. But regardless the cost or consequence, I will own it.
Here’s the deal. A kid needed something. He exercised his ownership. He leveled with me, eye to eye. It was something that I could give, and so I did. That simple. I trust Jaden. He is a committed learner in my room. He will get his descriptions done. It just didn’t happen yesterday. But what did happen yesterday is beyond any assignment–science or LA. Jaden and I–and those who were witness–shared a moment, an experience of mutual trust and respect. And I want to believe that in the end that will pay greater dividends than getting an assignment done.
Along today’s trail we will…
…begin with Smiles and Frowns.
…have a sentence performance opportunity.
…engage in a team think about injustice (I will write more about this tomorrow).
…reflect in Journey Journals.
…end with a Sappy Sy Rhyme.
Happy Wednesday, all.
Do. Reflect. Do Better.