Slice of Life Challenge day 5 #sol17

Title: “Tired”

Quietly as possible, I gently pulled on the handle.  But it didn’t matter. My attempt at a noiseless entry was instantly dashed by a metallic CLICK! of the latch bolt, which seemed to mock my effort by saying, “Don’t even try it!”  At that moment, 21 heads all turned in my direction.  My intention had been to slink into this classroom unobserved.  My intention had been to NOT be a distraction to the class.  However, as they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.  Oh well.

Finding a tile on the speckled white floor to study, I kept my head down in hopes that the 21 students would return their gaze to their teacher, who, before my abrupt entry, had been in the midst of addressing them all.  I waited a beat.  Okay, I think I can look up now, I thought.  Slowly raising my head, lips closed and hands clasped nervously behind my back, I raised my eyes again.  I haphazardly fixed my tie. Phew!  It appeared I had quickly become uninteresting, and everyone had returned their stare to the teacher. Perfect.

Everyone, that is, except Maya.

For whatever reason, Maya continued to hold her stare on me.  Soas not to become a further distraction, I mouthed a friendly “Hi!,” pulling my right hand from behind my back to offer a waist-high mini-wave.  Maya responded with a yawn, then a smile.  Taking a quick look around to be sure no one else was looking at me, I noiselessly inquired, “Tired?”

Closing both eyes for a long blink and shaking her head in the negative, Maya silently mouthed, “So tired.”

It occurred to me at that moment that we educators sometimes forget kids are actually people.  No, I know that sounds bad, and I don’t mean it literally.  But in the new harried and pressure-filled world of high-stakes testing, teacher evaluation systems, student learning outcomes, indicators of academic growth, smart goals, Bloomboard, EdReflect, data gathering, assessment-centered curricula, performance data, and on and on and on…we sometimes begin to conceptualize kids as ‘our little data machines.’  Our jobs have sometimes begun to feel like “‘teach’ them-get them to prove they ‘got it,’ and put that in a spreadsheet.”

Maya reminded me that kids are real people.  They’re daughters.  And sons.  And granddaughters.  And grandsons.  And best friends.  And sisters.  And brothers.  And cousins. And second cousins.

And sometimes they’re tired.  And sometimes they’re hungry.  And sometimes they have bad days.  And sometimes they have good days.  They’re…well, like us.  People trying to find their way in the world.  And with one small yawn, Maya reminded me of that very important fact.


Author: Lanny Ball

For more than 29 years, Lanny has taught, coached, presented, staff developed, and consulted within the exciting and enigmatic world of literacy. With unyielding passion and belief in the possibility of workshop teaching, Lanny has worked to support students, teachers, and school administrators around the country in outgrowing themselves as both writers and readers. Working first as a classroom teacher, then as a coach and TCRWP Staff Developer, Lanny is now a literacy specialist, working and living in the great state of Connecticut. Outside of literacy, he enjoys raising his three ambitious young daughters with his wife, and playing the piano. Find him on this blog, as well as on Twitter @LannyBall. Lanny is also a former co-author of a blog dedicated to supporting writing teachers and coaches that maintain classroom writing workshops,

16 thoughts on “Slice of Life Challenge day 5 #sol17”

  1. Great post, Lanny! You’re absolutely right – oftentimes we forget that are students are still people trying to figure it all out in this world! We, as adults and educators, don’t always have it together, so we shouldn’t expect our students to be perfect everyday either.


  2. Such big truth in this post, Lanny! In our rigor driven, high stress, test focused curriculum, we fail to acknowledge that our kids are human beings, living very real lives where they are sometimes tired and sometimes sick and sometimes having fights with friends or families. When we neglect the human aspect of our students’ lives, we fail as teachers.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, I didn’t use the ENTIRE first paragraph, but I did use the part where you are sneaking in the door. About ten minutes later one of my students went to the bathroom. When she came back she told me she snuck in the room “just like the mentor text”. Thanks for that!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I couldn’t agree more! What a wonderful moment of humanity, because class visits are also full-to-bursting with their own data sets.

    As a high school teacher, I find that when we pause long enough to remember teens are people too, many tend to forget they are still vulnerable kids. They may be trying on adulting from time to time, and they may have the mantle of it thrust upon them too much, but they really do still need love and guidance and grace.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lanny, I was just talking with my 3rd grade team about focusing on showing face, hands and/or feet in small moment stories to create meaningful elaboration. This is a great example of that that I could share with them.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Love your introduction. You really painted a picture–you “showed” instead of “told”. I’d like to use it as a mentor text for my third graders, if that’s okay with you. Plus, I loved your lesson. Just because my teaching is AMAZING, doesn’t mean all of my students don’t have their own lives that may distract them from my brilliance. (Ha!)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for offering me perspective. Tomorrow at school I am going to remember:
    They’re daughters. And sons. And granddaughters. And grandsons. And best friends. And sisters. And brothers. And cousins. And second cousins.
    I love this piece for some many reasons!!!
    Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Beautifully written … all leading up to that yawn. I think it is a powerful reminder because we have our agenda and lessons and reading and writing and thinking to do … but we can’t do that unless basic needs are met for everyone. Thanks for this reminder.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. A small, yet pertinent moment within a day that might have passed had you not awoken the writer within not to allow it to go unnoticed. A timely reminder that kids are merely younger versions of ourselves with all the quirks and foibles. Thanks for sharing this teachable moment.

    Liked by 1 person

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