Everything changed a month ago and I’m still regaining my footing. It hasn’t been easy and I know, in comparison to a vast majority of people on the planet, my life is blessed. I know the shift that needs to happen is within and that’s where my focus lies these days. Looking for inspiration last night I came across a news article that described what President Obama said to his teenage daughters after the election. His words were helpful: “You don’t get into a fetal position about it. You don’t start worrying about apocalypse. You say, O.K., where are the places where I can push to keep it moving forward?” (http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/21/politics/obama-daughters-trump-fetal-position/)
That’s what I’ve been doing, finding the places to keep it moving forward. Around the Seed there are plenty of opportunities. Teachers and students have been practicing diligently for next Wednesday evening’s Celebration of the Winter Solstice. Some classes are making special shirts or costume accessories for their dances. Jay and the kids are practicing special songs and top secret parent gifts are underway. We finished collecting food for Tanner Chapel, which Bill delivered on Tuesday morning. Now the office is filling up with toys, children’s clothing, blankets, and other useful items for the Sojourner Center, a shelter for families who are victims of domestic violence (https://www.sojournercenter.org).
An important part of the moving forward process for me has been helping the elementary kids with their writing. For the past several weeks they’ve drawn heart maps (http://www.heinemann.com/products/E07449.aspx) and are beginning to share what’s on their maps. I enjoy talking with the kids about writing and how to bring forth their life stories. Kindergarteners are learning about the parts of a story and how it can turn into a book. Sitting beside them at the tables as they draw and describe what’s in their hearts is a lively experience. We took one child’s story about a three-legged dog and showed the class how it could come to life on the page. Category books and lists poems are next up for this group.
The 1st and 2nd graders have jumped right into writing their stories and some are close to publishing. These students are learning about cracking open a story to find its details. They are learning to ask open-ended questions for more information from the storyteller. A car accident, the death of a beloved dog, playing games with a parent, falling down stairs as a toddler, and visiting family and friends in India are among the stories contained in their heart maps. In just a short time they’ve learned to ask relevant questions and many students are putting together some of the bigger concepts behind our work.
I have a longer writing history with the 3rd/4th grade class and we started up where we left off last year, with the 3rd graders eagerly entering in. As children share their poetry, the group listens attentively. Their comments are honest, supportive and inquisitive. I’m noticing they are not afraid to be open with their thoughts and feelings, knowing it’s a safe circle for sharing. Stories coming from their heart maps include picking out a new dog at the shelter, getting a grownup bike for a tenth birthday, a daughter and father playing basketball, and discovering an imaginary dragon in the back yard of a rental house. Children who resisted revising their work a year ago are eager to try out new ideas. Working with these young writers shows me that life does keep moving forward. How fortunately I am to have such wise teachers.