Most days my classrooms are a cacophony of sounds under the steady chant of “teacher! teacher! teacher!” every few seconds. The minutes fly by in a roar of questions and answers, a flurry of papers, a constant scratching of pens and pencils. Keeping focus and control is always just possible, bordering on an irreversible explosion of whims. This is in part because the students know I am easy to bend to their wills and rarely yell, and in part because I want their time with me to be as much of what they want as it can be while staying within the guidelines of the curriculum. And so, our days are a balanced chaos filled with shouting, laughing and general noisiness. Quiet, calm moments are a rarity. Thus, I treasure them above all else, and not just because they give my ears a reprieve from the chorus of demands. Rather, it is in the peaceful moments that I know the students are really learning, really engaged, even if they are not showing their excitement by jumping up and down screaming with joy. In those hard to come by minutes of quiet I can hear the gears in their brains turning, pushing their pencils across the page in sparks of creativity and connections. I can see their progress, their sense of accomplishment, their pride in their effort. Such sights are beautiful and today I was lucky enough to see them in my forth grade class.
Our quiet moment arrived in the form of acrostic poems about autumn (I know, it is summer, but oddly our book is focusing on fall at the moment). In other classes the acrostic poems haven’t been a source of excitement, but for whatever reason, this class really took to them. Several of the students tend to be on the rambunctious side of the energy spectrum, but much to my surprise, they settled down, carefully considered their words and used their pencils not for drumming on the desk, per usual, but for writing beautiful sentences. They made connections back to the previous story, asked pertinent questions and used their vocabulary words perfectly. It was a moment that filled me with such joy because it showed me that not only were the students really thinking about their poems and using their knowledge, but that they were truly enjoying it as they didn’t rush through it in a matter of seconds. When the moment slowly disappeared we were left with five lovely poems and the lingering creative power that comes from writing outside of rote memorization. In the pandemonium of normal days I live for such beautiful moments. Today was a lucky, lucky day for us.