Saturday, July 11, 2015

Celebrate Turn #21


Each week Ruth Ayres extends an invitation to share and celebrate events, big or small, from our week. 

Today I celebrate pencils.

Some of you may think this is an odd celebration.  I would too, if I hadn't heard Ruth's presentation at nErDcamp in Michigan this week.

I know I can never adequately summarize her presentation.  Because I was hanging on her every word, I did not take great notes.  So just let me tell you about my take-away from her session.

My teaching team has two different views on what to do when students come to class without a pencil.  Some think we are not teaching students to be responsible if we constantly give a pencil to students who come to class without one. Some teachers do not want to continuously replenish their stock of pencils because they have given students all of their supply.

Then others think, how are they supposed to do the work if they do not have a pencil.

I have always belonged to camp "give them a pencil."  Now after hearing Ruth's presentation, I still have the belief but with a different perspective.

Ruth explained that students' basic needs to be met before creativity, or specifically writing, can happen.  She showed a jar of colored pencils which represented  their many different stories, unique stories full of color which need to be written.

She then had us list behaviors we see when students do not want to write.  For example, staring out the window, fake writing, erasing everything they wrote because it was not perfect, and not having a pencil.  She wrote each one of these behaviors on a piece of tape and slowly began placing them on the jar so that we could no longer see their "stories."

Ruth then explained that these behaviors can represent an unmet need, a need we may never know about or a need we choose to ignore.

These behaviors cover up the stories which reside inside of them - the stories they may never write and we may never read.

If we can recognize this behavior, we can change our reaction.  

When we change our reaction, we give them hope.

Think about your reactions when a student does not have a pencil.  Maybe now you understand why...

Today I celebrate pencils.

Just for clarification...these are words from Ruth's presentation.  I in no way want to be given credit for them.  This post is validation and celebration that I am doing the right thing by giving students pencils.

16 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing Ruth's message. She inspires every time she presents or even when you sit and chat. How will you ever know the story if they don't have the tool?

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  2. I followed Twitter and didn't quite understand Ruth's story now it is perfectly clear. Thank you for sharing it's a perfect reminder for me. Happy Saturday celebrations!

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  3. Thank you Leigh Anne for sharing Ruth's words. Ruth certainly has a gift, as elsie noted because she helps us see so clearly to the heart of what is important!

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  4. I love this analogy. I have always been one in the give-them-the-pencil camp. If we allow this to stop us, if we have to reprimand every time it happens, we are not sending a welcoming safe environment. The environment must be safe for any writing to happen, let alone the hidden stories.

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  5. Thank you for sharing this story! If I'm being completely honest, I can say that this has been a long journey for me...the pencil journey. This past school year I was able to completely let it go and everyone was much happier. We didn't need more pencils because I constantly lent them out. Everyone was happy. Sometimes I would ask a student why he or she needed one and I'd stumble upon a student having a really bad day. I'm grateful I've been able to make this change and I LOVE how Ruth shared her story and I LOVE your thoughtful reflection and sharing of it!

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    1. Love how you let this go for good. Kudos.

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  6. Such an important message! Thank you for sharing this!

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  7. A wonderful celebration, I can identify with your words that you were so busy listening that you didn't have time to take notes. Wonderful take away - thanks for sharing!

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  8. I am with you in the GIVE THEM A PENCIL camp. Unmet needs. It gets hard to keep remembering this as the year wears on, but the needs aren't met magically even with the pencil we give them. Love Ruth's take on this. Simply beautiful. nERcamp sounds amazing. Thank you for sharing her work with us.

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  9. I made a pencil cup today. :) This is a beautiful post.

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  10. Thank you so much for sharing what you took away from the presentation. Beautiful.

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  11. Absolutely love this! I'm in the same camp too. We say at our school, "Let's set them up for success!" If it means sharing a pencil, let them pick one. I also followed along on Twitter but never received the message you shared today. So thank you for sharing Ruth's words and story. Just amazing!

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  12. It's lovely to hear Ruth's words, Leigh Anne, and I agree with you, give them the pencil. How can one expect that a child can enter in to writing their stories if they first have to worry about not being prepared & getting in trouble with the teacher? Ruth's metaphor of the jar of pencils covered with the reasons they're not writing is simple and wonderful.

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  13. Leigh Anne,
    I wanted to offer a public thank you for taking the time to reflect and document this learning. I am humbled to get to walk this path with you and it is a privilege to read your reflection. Thank you!
    Hugs,
    Ruth

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  14. Love every thing about this - Ruth's message, the way she made it "real", and your response. A wise presentation.

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  15. Perspective is something to celebrate. Things aren't always what that first glance shows us.
    Thanks for making me think about this!

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