It's hard to put into words what the opening week of my sojourn as a public school teacher brought to my mind and my heart. But here goes.
Some fly in the door as if propelled by the sheer force of their eagerness to learn - to do. Others slip in quietly, seeming to hope I won't notice. For each it's the role they've chosen to make it through. To make it.
It's my job to make sure they do.
That they open their minds to possibilities. That they close their ears to all the voices whispering "you can't do this." That they begin to believe in themselves as a learner - as a person who plans to grow.
It's my job to see they do.
We began the week as strangers, and became a class.
We did math - oh did we do math. Tons and tons of math. So much math that at the end of the week we celebrated the last math problem with a cheer and high fives.
We drilled spelling words - owned them.
We wrote story after story.
I did my best to keep the brightest and most eager challenged and prod, cajole, and encourage those who either needed help or motivation. We rehearsed our actions and procedures for everything again and again. And again. And again.
There was laughter. There were tears. No, not mine. :) I underestimated the effect that failure has on third graders. So we reinvented mistakes as learning markers and after I had them write what they thought they could not do - the "I Can'ts" on notebook paper - we buried them in the back yard.
I gave everything I had to them every single minute of every single day.
Because the Okaloosa County School District might list them as children...
... but I see them as 15 souls.