On most days, my blonde-haired, blue-eyed demon child sat in class while refusing to work once again. Of course as soon as I would turn my back, my “angelic” little monster would begin to taunt the other sixth grade students who were quietly and diligently doing their writing assignment. He made the typical clown faces to make the others laugh, or he would whisper to those around him because he would do anything possible to keep from writing….well that is until today.
Over the past three weeks, my language arts students have started an essay about a hero. For many of my students, this is the first time they have ever written a five-paragraph essay. And for those that have written essays, some still get that “deer in the headlight” look when they know they have a large assignment looming before them. As always, I take this first writing assignment slow. We work on the assignment in class in small manageable bits and pieces, so students can see it isn’t such a whale of a writing assignment, well, everyone that is except for my baby-faced terror who would do almost anything to get out of writing.
But today, let me just say; I won the World Series. Today, we worked on “the blues,” aka the hook or the grabber, that little bit of information that entices a reader to want to read someone’s writing assignment. Our topic for our masterpiece was to write about a special hero. No superheroes or superstars were allowed; I wanted the real deal: those who were in it for the long haul. Students wrote about fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, and even best friends. We shared heartwarming anecdotes; some even brought tears since the narratives came from the heart. And then came my boy. For the first time, he brought me an assignment. Something within him connected to the assignment, and he knocked it out of the ballpark. It was perfectly wonderful. My kid wrote:
After 2 1/2 years of frustration, sadness and a lot of NEVER giving up, he got me out of foster care. Say thank you to my grandpa.
It didn’t matter that he used a word from the dead word list; it didn’t matter that this kid once gave me gray hairs. What mattered was this kid finally felt a connection and he could write about something REAL, something that mattered to him.
Since we were sharing, I asked my student if I could share what he wrote. He stood up a little straighter, and with pride in his voice happily stated, ”yeah.”
The class clapped and told him what a great grabber he had written. As my smiling student took his seat, I told him that I didn’t know he had a writer’s heart. I told my kid, “Well, now that I know; I am going to be your worst nightmare.” And for the first time, my student smiled as we discussed his up-coming writing assignment. And for the first time in a long time, I am actually looking forward to fifth period, and my kid who hit a home run in class today.