When I read Stacey’s charge on Monday, I thought about all of the typical people I could write about, and quite frankly, I wasn’t excited about it at all. So then I began thinking of a person who has impacted me, but I’ve never written about, a person who wasn’t the first to pop into my mind, but still important in shaping me into the person I am today. Rereading Stacey’s post, I’m not sure if this person quite fits the charge, but I’ve been percolating about this entry all day — so here it goes. (PS: This is totally first draft writing . . . I’ve never written about this person — I’m giving it a go cold.)
Disgusted, shelled up in a black hoodie, in a back desk, despising this last class of the first day of seventh grade — and I haven’t even said a word. And just like he was doing with me, I began my assumptions of him. And just like his, mine were all wrong.
The first writing — a memoir — and he writes about his
beloved hamster that died. (Beloved? — honestly, he’d kill me if he saw that description . . . I’d better revise.) More importantly, he completed a writing analysis of his process. Through these two writings he let me in.
I saw an important moment in his life that changed the hard-edged view of him that I had . . . and I learned his thinking about writing. I learned that although his writing was decent in many aspects, he didn’t have confidence in his ability.
Over months of reading and writing and responding and learning together, Bo taught me to be a better teacher. His eagerness to learn, his willingness to take risks, and his leadership in our classroom showed me daily the importance of genuine caring for the people we “live” with each day.
Our one to one conversations lifted the quality of his work. He began reading more difficult novels and his writing became stronger. And I saw the lasting impact of creating a community of readers & writers. By the end of his seventh grade year he was completely out of the shell he appeared to be in on day one. And he gave me one of the rarest gifts a teacher can be given — he told me the impact I had on him.
Bo is now a junior in high school. The last time he saw me was during a passing period and I was in the middle of the hall. I heard someone call me name and I turned to see — Bo caught me in a hug, spun me around, and sat me down. My first thought: Not your typical student-teacher interaction.
My next thought: It’s okay.
The irony of it all is that I probably learned more from Bo than I taught him. One of the main reasons I coach today is because of Bo. See, I want to make an impact so more students can experience the freedom and power and rigor and love of being a member of a community of readers and writers.
Thanks Bo . . . and more, whom I have plans to write entries about this week in my writer’s notebook.
Thanks for the charge Stacey, it’s led me to some brand new thinking & writing. I’ll be forever grateful for this.
Unhurried. Finding the magic in the middle of living. Capturing a life of ridiculous grace + raw stories.