My favorite thing to do at the end of the week is close my door and venture into the storage closet in the back of my room (which I’ve dubbed the Bat Cave) with my students journals. I’ll look out the window for a moment or two and then settle in to the broken roll chair and start reading.
I spend all week trying to convince my students that they have a voice, that what they have to say matters. I scribble notes in their margins and try to push them toward their big ideas a little more each day.
It’s a cleansing process.
Any angst or contempt that I might have for my students’ behavior that week goes away – even the ones who tell me that ‘poetry blows’ or make fun of my last name seem drift back into the pleasant places of my mind. Why is that?
I think it’s because that time alone, more than any other time, is my chance to tangibly handle each of my students’ ideas and the life they walk into my class with. Some days I’ll realize that I didn’t make contact with a few kids and that is never a good feeling. So, with their journals, I have this representation of every reason I try to come up with a funny story to intro class or why I try my best to put my lessons through the ‘would this matter to me?’ test.
Every student has a voice. I might not be the one to dramatically influence the direction of their lives – but I can value their thoughts and opinions and do my best to help them determine how it is they will tell their story.