Friday, March 2, 2018

Turning point

Day 2 of 31 at TWT!
Oh yay, S. published a post AND she made it public! I scanned her title and hook, excitedly clicking to read the full post. Looks like a good one, too...

"Turning Point! / Life could change in minutes..." I scroll through her warm description of her childhood, relishing the opportunity to know this student more deeply.

Suddenly, I'm crying at my desk. I thought I knew what was coming. I know the things that my students have likely experienced when they come from a place like Syria. But it's one thing to imagine a vague possibility, based on news about faraway strangers, and quite another to read, in her own beautifully crafted words, what "my kid" has been through. "...all of these dream and plans disappeared when I heard this unforgettable sentence in news..." Whole messy tears spurt from my eyes, shoulders shaking, hands on my face. If someone walks by my room right now, they'll think I'm crazy. 

S. lights up our class every day with bright eyes, an always-ready smile, and such a voracious determination that I chose her to be one of my squad leaders after knowing her for only a few weeks. Taking that role to heart, she has consistently gone out of her way to help her group members, encourage them with caring comments, and let me know when she is concerned about someone, while still relentlessly challenging herself. For Valentine's Day, she had her squad surprise me with a card they had decorated by writing "I love you" in their languages.
S.'s Valentine's Day surprise.. she even sneaked it onto my desk in the middle of class! (If you're curious, the languages are Spanish, Arabic, Amazigh (Berber), and Hindi!)
This morning, her words had me wiping my eyes with hands that bear her Henna handiwork from Wednesday's Global Cafe.

Before even finishing my comment to her, I opened our staff Schoology group for sharing positive stories and began typing: "Everybody. Read this post!!!" I pasted in the link, posted, and returned to my half-written comment. "S, I'm literally crying at my desk right now..."

With that, my sluggish Friday morning was transformed into a day of pride. Whenever I got a chance, I eagerly refreshed our comment approval feed, hoping another staff member had left a comment. And again and again, they had. Compassionate, reflective, meaningful comments poured in, both from staff members who knew her and those who didn't:

"...You have a powerful voice and message..."
"... I am aware of the strife in Syria but your story makes it personal..."
"... Never forget the little girl in you... she is your heart and should be shared with the world every day..."
"Wow! This was an incredibly moving piece..."
"...You sound like a young lady of incredible courage, strength, and passion..."
"... I am now a better person because of what you shared!..."

Because of them, I got to start our blogging time in class by showcasing the connections and emotions that were brought about by S.'s powerful writing and courage in publishing her story publicly. I couldn't have designed a better "turning point" to get momentum going for the rest of March!

To top it all off, K. called me over near the end of class. "Mrs. M? I, um, just don't know how to comment on S.'s post! I mean..." Tears spilled over her eyelashes and down her face as she hurriedly tried to brush them away. "...I'm crying! I don't know what to say! It's so awful... I'm so sorry! I mean, it's not my fault, but I'm so sorry!"

"Say that, K. Tell her what she made you feel. Say exactly that."

(If you'd like to leave her a comment, don't worry when it seems to disappear -- it just has to be approved by me!)


  1. Such a powerful teaching moment. You are really giving your kids a place and an audience to share their voices. :)

  2. Wow. Just wow. Thank you for letting her share her voice and express her feelings. She is an inspiration.

  3. I don't know what to say Jennifer, what an incredible opportunity for your student to share her dreams and hardships she has endured. You make such a difference to every student. You let them tell their story, and the world needs to hear these stories.


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