On this cold December morning golden-kissed leaves fall outside my window. They somersault through the air quickly, yet gently, tumbling yellow to orange and back again. Inside the classroom students are immersed in writing. I hear the clink of the keys, the scratch of the pencils, the faint instrumental music playing overhead. We have just finished a writing exercise and are now working on one of four writing assignments due in the near future. My students are lost in words. Some recall memories for a family narrative, some imagine arguments to present in their spoken word performances, and others reflect on their reading lives. I stand before them and write at the Elmo, my process projected for all to see—from the struggle at coming up with the next sentence to the times when my pen cannot possibly keep up with my thoughts.
In this moment I am extremely grateful. How could I not be? On days like these, when students are as absorbed as any professional writer would be, I am proud. A nagging little voice whispers, “Don’t you remember the hard days?” Well, yes. Of course I do. Only yesterday the calendar revealed there are two more weeks of school, but I have what seems to be at least two months worth of work left to cover. Just last week a group of students seemed disengaged during an activity I spent days planning. One student cried after class on Tuesday, disheartened by the AP workload. Another received his essay feedback on Wednesday and slumped in his seat, claiming he would never be any good at timed writing. And yet, all of the frustrations are worth it when we arrive at this moment together. My students use the skills and techniques they have been taught to develop beautiful, authentic texts. Some conference with me, eager to share ideas or ask questions. They all play with language as the ideas pour from the tips of their pens.
Too often we focus on what students cannot or are not doing. Too often we shake our heads in frustration and count the days until Friday. But sometimes, on magical days like this, time slows and students become what we have expected them to be all along. In my class, right now, at this moment, they craft writing that will live outside and beyond them. They are writers.
I wish each and every one of you magical classroom moments in 2017.
Have a wonderful break!