"The free play of art is the result of mastery. " --Ernst Fischer, The Necessity of Art

"Children are likely to live up to what you believe of them." --Ladybird Johnson

"...a well-trained ear, a well-trained intelligence, a well-trained heart, and a well-trained hand...." --Zoltan Kodaly


Daily Life, 46

Had a child request to speak with me alone after class today. We sat down on the bench in the hallway...Grade 2:

Jalissa* Ms N, what happens, exactly, when a kid doesn't get to go on to 3rd grade?

Me Well, they stay in the same grade for another year, and make new friends, and still get to play with the friends they have already. They also get a chance to understand what they're learning, in a better way.

J (studying the tips of her black patent sneaker-shoes...I kid you not, those exist in little-girl land)
How do you know if you're gonna have to stay back?

Me Usually the teacher tells you. I don't think you have to worry about this, Jalissa*--you're a good student. Are you worried?

J Yes. My tummy aches when I think about it.

Me Did someone tell you that you were gonna stay back?

J (Nods her head.)

Me A grownup, or a kid?

J A grownup.

Me Your teacher?

J No.

Me Well. Does the person know how well you read? And that you're smart at math? Because I can tell, just from how you do in Music, that you're nearly ready for third grade.

J Not my behavior.

Me Hmm. Well, that's true. You've been having a bit of a hard time lately, right?

J (Looking at her toes, knocking each foot against the other) My parents told me that the teacher might hold me back because I've been so bad.

Me Hmm. Well. What do you think about that?

J (Looking up at me with tear-filled eyes) I'm scared.

Me Yep..... Did you talk with your teacher about this?

J (Looking back down, mumbling) No.

Me Well. I don't think this is something you really need to worry about, Jalissa*. I think you'll be going on the third grade.

J (Looking up at me, earnestly) But are you SURE?

Me Honestly? No. But I can find out. Would you like me to?

J Yes, please.

Me OK. I'll check it out, and stop by your room. Thumbs up means you're OK, but if I make my hand wave like this, it means they're still deciding what to do.


Me And Jalissa*, before you go back to class, you do know there's a good way to fix things if it does turn out that you might have to stay back because of your behavior, right?

J What do you mean?

Me Well, there's more than a month left of school. What do you think about working on listening better, and not talking so much to Ben*, and doing your best now?

J Wellllll.....I guess I could do that.

Me Just think about it first, and then make your decision. But either way, I'll find out how things stand.

Which I did do. She, of course, is fine. Except for the undercurrent of fear that's been her constant companion for the past month or so...

*Jalissa and Ben are, of course, not these earnest young students' real names.

No comments: