Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Sparks from writer to writer

19 of 31 at Two Writing Teachers!
"I got you a little present and I just can't wait for you to open it!" My graduate student observer beamed at me as she unveiled a friendly pink bag with cheerful yellow-confetti tissue paper peeking out the top.

"Aw, you didn't have to..." I assured her as I dug into the bag. (My husband will be the first to tell you that I tear into presents like a ravenous carnivore disemboweling its prey... as opposed to his family members, who gingerly loosen the tape and ribbons as if they are performing a risky surgery!)

I skimmed the card and grinned without really letting the words sink in. "Thanks!" I nodded, but I knew I'd have to re-read it later. (For someone who loves words, I sure get preoccupied with the gift... I think it's just the anticipation of discovering a hidden treasure! I've always thrown the card aside until the present has been revealed. It's not that I don't value cards, I just can't concentrate on them while there's a SURPRISE taunting me!)

"Ooh, it feels book-y!" I wiggled as I felt a pliable rectangle under the tissue paper. Aw, a writing notebook, yay...
A word at the bottom of the cover caught my eye.
One little word.
MY one little word!
Wow, right?! The pen matches too, with "spark" on one side & the colors on the other!
I squealed and hugged her. "Oh my gosh! This is so cool! This is, like, the best present..." I sputtered.

I ran my hands over the cover and the paper, savoring that crisp, creamy new-notebook-fresh-start-iness. Then I flipped it over to the back cover, hoping to see what company she'd used to make it. Instead, the present just got better:
<3 <3 <3
I almost cried. I think I hugged her again. I probably hugged the notebook. "Thank you so much! This is just so special!" I gushed.

"Well, you're a writer... and one day I saw your word in one of your posts, or maybe on your desktop background... and I thought of it," she said sheepishly. "I've just learned so much from you... this experience has been so much better than I ever hoped... You're like, the best teacher I've ever seen!" As she chattered, I read her card more carefully. Now it was my turn to be sheepish.

My classroom won't be the same without her eager, bright eyes and thoughtful questions. My students will miss her patient kindness and her positive, authentic teaching style that's so much like mine. I will miss our honest, reflective discussions about teaching, learning, and life.

I'm humbled and honored that my small sparks have helped make her a better teacher, and I'm so excited when I think of how her sparks will change the lives of so many ELL readers and writers in the future.

30 hours of observation doesn't sound like much, but it's plenty of time for sparks to fly.


  1. This post put a huge smile on my face this morning! I'm so glad you liked the gift. It's small compared to all you have given to me in the form of education, inspiration, and motivation. :) Thank you!!

  2. Absolutely wonderful! You really had a special student teacher! This journal is beautiful! I am sure that it will inspire more sparkful moments for you to write about!

  3. What a thoughtful and most appropriate gift for you! You give so much to your students and all who come in contact with you. From the comment above I think the giver enjoyed the giving as much as you enjoyed the gift. Wonderful job Jennifer!


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