Friday, December 10, 2010

Making Beautiful Things

I cannot play any stringed instruments...but I can make a pie...

The snow has been falling all day in a steady, slow accumulation that reminds us all that it is winter. The skies are gray, the season is feeling long, and Christmas seems to be taking forever to get here. Despite the Christmas decorations the hang in most windows and stores, I try desperately on a daily basis to keep students out of the whimsical and down in reality.

I'm not sure it's working very well.

We racked up two more suspensions today at school, meaning that 15% of my personal student population has been suspended for at least one day of the last seven. It's getting ridiculous and unfortunately does nothing for the hope I should put in the other 85% of my population--that they will pull through, follow directions, produce quality work. It's a hard thing to do when 1.5 out of every ten students has no problem proclaiming "No, actually, I don't care that the rules say not to do this..."

This afternoon I had a choice: grade papers (from that endless stack) in my room or attend the choir/band/orchestra concert that would be taking place during my prep period. If I am completely honest, I would admit that I tried to grade papers. I really did. But that little voice inside of me kept whispering that I needed to go to the concert. If I was going to be frustrated with student's behavior outside the classroom, I needed to show them that I do genuinely care what they do outside of my class--even if it's just down the hall.

And so I went, grading in hand, and stood in the back while the choir performed "My Heart Will Go On" (cue, Celine Dion's 1999 hit...). And while the song triggered my own eighth grade memories of attending Titanic with my Mom (who was there to screen out inappropriate parts while we shared a jumbo pack of Twizzlers), there was something angelic about their voices, and then the orchestra, and then the band, even with the occasional (or frequent) note off key.

"Yes," I found myself musing while the papers to be graded were neglected, "These students are capable of producing beautiful things."

And in the midst of grading run-on sentences and adjective quizes,
while producing packets of work for students to complete while suspended,
it was a very important thing to remember.

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