April 14, 2011

Once there was a teacher...and she loved her students...

Once there was a tree...and she loved a little boy...
And every day the boy would come and he would gather her leaves 
and make them into crowns and play king of the forest. 
He would climb up her trunk and swing from her branches and eat apples. 
And they would play hide-and-go-seek. 
And when he was tired, he would sleep in her shade. 
And the boy loved the tree.......very much. 
And the tree was happy.
-The Giving Tree, Shel Silverstein

Here's the truth:
I have another cold-turned-something-awful (I'm thinking sinus infection...).
I am losing my voice AGAIN.
I am exhausted from having to repeat the same few directions over and over to the same few students.
I am overwhelmed that I now have SIX (yes 6) kids on behavior charts that must be filled out after EVERY subject.
I am frustrated that it's April and my neediest reader is still not receiving the services he needs, no matter how much I try to get them for him.
I'm tired.

But today, I read The Giving Tree aloud while 22 fifth graders sat at rapt attention in a circle at my feet.  And suddenly it was all worth it.  Sharing my favorite books with my kiddos is absolutely my favorite part of my job.  Watching them fall as much in love with them as I am is even better.
Reading this story aloud and discussing the powerfully simple plot reminded me again how much potential my students have...to think...to wonder...to care...

Today 5th graders talked about how their parents are like the Giving Tree, because they are happy to give them what they need, and don't ask anything in return.
They talked about how they can be like the Giving Tree when they share with younger siblings.
They talked about how they should show more thanks to the people that you love, shocked that the boy in the story didn't say thank you to the tree.
They talked about how their grandparents are like the Giving Tree, because no matter how long they're away, they are so happy to see them.
They talked about how when you give happiness away, you sometimes get it in return.
They talked about being generous to those you love.
They talked about appreciating what you have.
When, on the page where the boy carries off the tree's branches (like a knife to my heart, that one gets me every time...) I said, "This picture makes me feel a lot of things in my heart.  What does it make you feel?", the kind of question you might think 5th graders would laugh or smirk or reply sarcastically to...my class responded from their hearts.  And I was touched by their thoughts.

And even though sometimes I feel like the Giving Tree, bark and branches stripped away after I have given them every ounce I have during a school day...they are learning.  They are growing.  And I am happy.

1 comment:

  1. I got all choked up during this post.

    Maybe because I only have a month left of student teaching. Or because I'm overtired from lesson planning and saying, "Boys and girls! What is the appropriate behavior for walking in the hallway?"

    Or maybe because I feel exactly. The. Same. Way.


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