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A Blessing in Disguise.

Funny how sometimes when I post something, I’m tested on it the next day.  Following my post Why Memoir Monday?, fourteen out of fifteen students didn’t complete their homework on Tuesday.  The homework was to prepare for literature circle discussions and with the completed notes, discussion circles couldn’t happen.  Fourteen out of fifteen!  I usually don’t have this problem with homework, probably because I’m super selective about the kind of homework I assign.  It’s important and relevant.  I was shocked.  (This class is really on top of their homework — often there is 100% completion.)  Then I was disappointed.

So I gave my Big-I’m-Disappointed-In-You spiel.  And I was.  Disappointed.  Annoyed.  Perturbed.  And they were silent.  In an effort to salvage the day, they took their independent reading time early for the day while I refocused and made plans for the remainder of the time.  Each day is too precious to let it go to waste.

After reading we wrote a couple of quick writes, one titled “Disappointed.”  Then we shared.  Walls tumbled down as the shared genuine thoughts and real-life-stuff that is happening now.  Disappointed in themselves, disappointed in their parents, disappointed in their friends, disappointed in a sister, disappointed about letting people down. 

I had such insight into them as a people and I found myself asking how does what we do in this class — a class all about making sense of the world and our place in it — help them now.  Not next year or in college or when they’re married.  Right now. 

My heart wanted to thank them for not doing their homework, because we did this work instead.  We wrote and read and shared as a community of readers and writers — all trying to make sense of the world.  I’m a better teacher today because they didn’t do their homework yesterday.

Ruth Ayres View All

Unhurried. Finding the magic in the middle of living. Capturing a life of ridiculous grace + raw stories.

6 thoughts on “A Blessing in Disguise. Leave a comment

  1. Congrats. on your sucess!! It is amazing to me that this group you describe actually did the quick writes. Did only one reflect on “disappointment” , or did you suggest that specific topic and most students wrote about it. I suppose the important point is that you finished with a good discussion.

    I would love to be able to get my jr. high kids in Mexico to get enthused about quick writes. It takes forever for them to get the materials out and focus. Then in the literature circles, if we share anything, 10 of the 16 are either talking, interrupting, laughing, messing around, or all of the above. I have 13 boys and 3 girls, from 7th, 8th and 9th grade. The majority do not listen to what others say, nor care in literature circle.

    I am the “reading/writing” teacher and there is another teacher for “listening/speaking”. We teach 1.5 hours 2 days a week and on Fridays (today), only 45 min. of English. Next year I hope they integrate these skills under only one teacher.

    I have until July to find ways to motivate my students. Today I passed out slips with emails of students in Sweden who I “observed” in Stockholm last week. I thought it would tie in well with our objectives in letter writing this month. Most of the students said they have so many emails (over 200, or over 1000), that they don´t imagine this idea will work. Why would their student in Sweden open a random email?

    Reluctantly, using their recess time, they all finished a rough draft to send by computer. Whew. . . what a day. For the first time this year I decided to make them stay inside for recess if they did not have the letter done.

    Any suggestions for getting kids excited about writing in jr. high? THANKS SO MUCH Or any good sites for getting them to read silently during Reading Workshop? Laurie


  2. awh mrs. ayres, that is so nice. 🙂
    maybe we can start not doing our homework more often? haha. just kidding. 🙂
    but i like when we have quick writes that actually mean something to us like that one did. i’m really glad that we have you as a teacher instead of the other english teachers. i can tell you really care about us learning and actually care about what we do. unlike the others.


  3. Ruth,
    I read your blog almost daily and it has always been so helpful, not only in the instructional sense but in encouragement as well. In the midst of high stakes testing and the continuous pressure that teachers feel, thanks for sharing this experience that we all need to be reminded of.
    Our students are people that want to do their best and they need to be listened to not just “talked” at. Thanks for your expertise and your willingness to share yourself.
    Barbara Coleman


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