A few words

As a literacy coach, one great advantage I have is interacting with students from grade to grade throughout their elementary years. I get to watch their growth and development firsthand. As readers, as writers, as fellow human beings . . .

One great disadvantage is not being a daily part of their lives or having as much impact as a classroom teacher. I try to maximize the joy of student learning in the moments I do have with them, for I am on the periphery of their academic life.

Or so I believed.

This week, after several weeks out with my husband’s hospitalization and convalescence, I went back to school. Feeling grateful to be on familiar ground (somewhat like finally making it to a known island through strange, ominous seas), whom should I see but a little friend I used to call “Superman” because he was wearing a shirt emblazoned with the superhero’s “S” logo on the day I first saw him. He was in first grade then, having come from another country. He was tiny, he knew no English, and his frustration was immense. His face was one miniature thundercloud until I said “Hey, you’re Superman,” and that’s when he smiled.

So, on my first day back, here he is, getting off the bus, smiling, making a beeline. He’d made a card for me. This child, now in third grade, has mastered English to the chatterbox level and still doesn’t like to write (although he loves telling elaborate stories about things like playing soccer in the street with other kids in his neighborhood).

I thank him. I tell him how tall he’s gotten in these few weeks I’ve been away. He grins, hugs me, and heads off to class, uncharacteristically shy.

I read my card and I understand.

Sometimes it’s hard to share your heart out loud. So we write when we have something to say, when the need to express this something outweighs the chore of getting it on the page.

Just a few words, but how I rejoice in them, that he has them.

—I missed you, too, Superman.

11 thoughts on “A few words

  1. Oh my goodness. That is a card to treasure. I love your description of this child, “He was tiny, he knew no English, and his frustration was immense. His face was one miniature thundercloud until I said “Hey, you’re Superman,” and that’s when he smiled.” And I believe in the truth of your ending, “Sometimes it’s hard to share your heart out loud. So we write when we have something to say, when the need to express this something outweighs the chore of getting it on the page.” In fact, that might inspire my post for next week. (Of course NOW I read your post and get inspired…) I’m glad you’re back to school, glad for the healing it implies.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That note, O MY God, it’s a treasure! It’s things like these that keep a teacher going. And what you said at the end – that sometimes it’s hard to share what we feel and so we write – that’s true for a lot of us grown ups too. You’re definitely not on the periphery, you’re very much in the children’s hearts.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This just makes me smile to no end. I find sixth graders are the same way. We are in our Leader in Me “journey” (blah, not fan of journeys, but that’s another blog) and I shared my “emotional piggy bank”. This is a box of feel good things from throughout the year. The next day, I had a student ask me to “put their drawing in my emotional piggy bank” so I could use it to feel better if I was down.

    Sixth grade. Who knew?? 🙂

    Glad to see you are back in school and thank you for sharing with us!

    Like

  4. You have made a profound impact in this child’s life! It is also evident that he has a big heart and amazing empathy for a third-grader. I’m glad this bright moment welcomed you back to campus. May there be many more!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh Fran. I remember the other post about Superman! I love how we get to see him again here and how he shared his heart with you. I am glad you are back at work and your little buddy found you. I know you make a difference.

    Liked by 1 person

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