Sal came to my first-grade class regularly for about six weeks. He was great with the kids and easy to work with, and everybody loved him. I don't remember much about Sal's projects in the classroom, but I do remember what he said about why he had realized that teaching wasn't for him after all.
"In my work I've been used to walking into a building, figuring out what's not working, and repairing it. You leave at the end of the day knowing that you completed the job. But here in the classroom, the progress can be so slight each day, or maybe you don't see any progress. There's a lot of waiting, and sometimes you can't tell if you fixed anything at all. I guess I still need to walk in, see what's broken, and fix it."
That's obviously my paraphrase of Sal's wise assessment of his experience in first grade, and off he went back into his life--but his observation has stuck with me. I'm not an angler, not a fly-fisher like my friend Mary Lee, but I'm joining her in her Trout of the Day project, and I guess that
what I am good at
is catching little minnows
kiss then throw them back
By this little instaku I mean that here they come swimming--
I reach in, catch them up midstream and plant a little challenge on them, then toss them back in to catch their breath and find their own next level.
And each day--even in this first week of school or maybe especially--I can see growth and change and progress in each child, and those little increments are enough to keep me feeling like I'm doing the right work for me. I love it when Caty-Jean realizes she's safe and can step right up in the line with confidence. I notice that Jake is thinking hard about which way his capital J should hook. I see that Emara is learning to say goodbye to her twin after recess. And look at Hector planting his finger on his lips and waiting for his turn to tell me everythingeverythingeverything all at once!
In this work, you don't walk in, see what's broken, and fix it. It's a little more slippery, a little more daily than that. It goes minnow by minnow.
For lots of hefty poetry keepers, Check It Out is the river to fish in today, with our host Jone.