Friday, March 1, 2013

Mind Explosions



Welcome to my first post for the Slice of Life challenge 2013 hosted by Two Writing Teachers.  




"I teach for the fire, the moment of ignition, the spark,
the lightbulb of cognition going on in the dark
over an adolescent's head. O beautiful incandescence,
dazzling the dead air all around the room; he tries
and he tries and he tries and BOOM, he gets it
and you can see it in his eyes! I teach for that moment."

- Taylor Mali*

Boys.  I have two of my own, but in my profession as a reading specialist, I work with many, many boys who struggle with reading.  I'll never forget one particular boy, a student I taught seventeen years ago, because he changed my life.  Bobby was in Third grade, and he could not read.  He knew his letters, sounds, and he loved listening to stories and discussing them, but all of his knowledge about print had not come together.  Worse, he had convinced himself that he would never be a reader.  Working with Bobby, I knew that this was untrue.  He was a reader, and I needed to try to help him find that part of himself.  One day, as I predicted, it "clicked."  BOOM. The image of joy and sparkle in his eyes is forever embedded in my mind.  In that moment, I became a reading specialist.

Fast forward to the present, and a student who arrived to our school this year in First grade, not knowing his letters or sounds.  A joyful child, Danny approaches the task of reading with persistence, despite his frustration with print.  We work diligently together, and we celebrate our successes with exploding fist bumps and happy dances.  Yesterday, Danny told me to close my eyes while he worked on his writing response in his journal.  I obliged, of course, peeking somewhat to make sure he was up to the task at hand.  He worked for a long time - minutes - and when he finally told me to open my eyes, this is what I saw...


"This is a hippopotamus.  A hippopotamus has a big name."


I looked up at him, and he asked, "Did I blow your mind?"  

I smiled and said, "BOOM!"

I could see it in his eyes.  He got it.


*To read more of Taylor Mali's inspiring words, go to his website (link here).

18 comments:

  1. Oh, sweet! That is exactly why I love teaching! That moment when the mind explodes! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Absolutely! Thank you for visiting, Donna!

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  2. Love it! I've worked with struggling readers in the past, and I remember watching the light dawn in their eyes.

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    1. It really is evident. That moment of realization hits, and it's the best part of my job.

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  3. What a great way to bring us into your experience (your slice) and the way he gave you that comment ... man ... perfect!
    Kevin

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    1. I work with some spectacular kids! Thanks for visiting my Slice and leaving your thoughts. :)

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  4. Kris,
    I was so glad to see you were joining the event. I love love love this post. When I was working as a Reading Recovery teacher I always loved that moment when the students realized they were readers. There was always that one moment where it just hit them. I still see that in my classroom with some of my readers who work hard to progress. The moment their eyes light up and they realize, "Hey, I can read this." BOOM!

    Cathy

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    1. Hi Cathy, my friend! I am happy to see that you are Slicing too! Thank you, thank you, thank you!
      Isn't it an amazing moment? It's why we do what we do.
      :)

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  5. That is why we teach - we make a difference - every single day!

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    1. The fireworks are the best part! Boom!

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  6. I'm glad you wrote this slice today. I bet you'll be glad you wrote this slice forever.
    Ruth

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    1. Thanks, Ruth. My students stay with me in my heart, and it was really great to get this moment "out there."

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  7. Boom! (I got it too!) What joy!

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    1. Fireworks and explosions! Yay! :)

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  8. I love his writing response, but even more than that, I love that he got it-boom! The moment in time hit home-what a pleasure for you!

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    1. It was truly exciting for both of us. I immediately sent the pic to his classroom teacher, because I wanted her to see the Boom!, too!

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  9. I love Taylor Mali, and I love how you crafted a post that reflects the way you lived one of his poems. I could ask kids to do the same....hmmm...thanks for the inspiration!

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    1. You are welcome, and thank you for stopping by to read and comment!

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Please feel free to leave comments or feedback. I welcome your words! :)