While I haven't had the pleasure of enjoying a COMPLETELY school-free winter break (see previous posts about what has kept me busy), I had up until now almost completely avoided the bin o' grading sitting on the floor in my office. Every now and then I'd glance at it or rifle through the papers as if to check if they had miraculously graded themselves, but no such luck. Today my very good friend Miss R and I spent a happy afternoon of grading, movies, and cookies on my family room floor. (is it sad that the only time we can spend together must involve grading multi-tasking?) Anyways, I actually made a huge dent in the grading bin, not to mention had a great time catching up with Miss R and sharing all sorts of ideas for school. You know what they say...you can take a teacher outta school, but can't take the school outta the teacher... sad, but oh. so. true.
Well, one of the big items I had to grade were my Heroes expository essays. Yes, those expositories I had them start on in November. How did I manage to drag them out until winter break? I have no idea, but somehow it happened. With them being written over such a looong period of time, I was really dreading grading them, expecting them to be pretty "interesting." In fact, I was pleasantly surprised!! Many of even my generally average writers really bared their souls sharing why these special people are their heroes. Some of their reasons again reminded me of the realities of these children's lives: admiration for parents who manage to get food on the table, gratitude for parents who risked losing their jobs waiting tables to stay home with their sick child, love for fathers who love their child even though their mothers left with the kids years ago...beautiful, and more than one left me with absolute chills.
Today was one time when I was absolutely proud and just awestruck at more than one of my students. One described the way his dad cares for those around him, and makes him want to be a good person and care for his family too, just like dad. So often when I look at these children, I think about how they are all in such a hurry to grow up as fast as possible. It is refreshing to know that they are still kids who idolize their parents. And it is even more refreshing to realize that they see how hard their families work for them, and that they value things like integrity, character, and values (though none used QUITE those words... ;)
Well, that was the bright spot in my day of epic grading. Even though those essays were still a pain, between navigating my rubric and writing a note of comments to each child, many of them reminded me why I teach, and why I love children. Even fifth graders :)