Sunday, January 16, 2011
Expect to Be Surprised
Take a close look at this picture from my classroom. See the orange bell pepper plant? With the ripe pepper ready to be picked? Ok, now look at the basket of books next to it...yes, the ones labeled Winter Books. This pepper plant is a leftover from my summer garden. Not only will it not die, but it blossomed--in December! And then the pepper grew and ripened--in January! And check this out:
It occurred to me that a lot of my kids are like these plants. A lot of things in their lives are less than ideal. Some are downright hostile. But I've learned to expect surprises.
E. is not very confident in herself as a learner. She struggles despite working very hard. One day last week she stopped reading during reading group to point to the bold text in the book of the girl seated beside her. "No," E. said, "if you see those letters that look fat, you have to read it bigger with your voice. Like this." She quickly modeled and then went back to her copy of the book and continued reading--so did the other girl, now making sure to do as instructed by her friend. I sat quietly and savored the surprise. The next day, I asked E. to teach the rest of the group what she new about bold print. She ducked her head, then looked up and nodded, grinning widely.
There are moments like things happening in classrooms on a regular basis. And when we expect our kids to surprise us, we lift the level of what we believe is possible for them--in spite of the challenges they face. What a gift to our learners, and to ourselves as their teachers. I cannot imagine living my classroom life without the expectation that my kids will surprise me. Be ready for it...expect it.