Comes in and gets busy.
Responds to my comments on her writing.
Earned an A for the last trimester.
And yet, she is so so quiet.
L never volunteers in class.
Hates to be called on.
Doesn't participate in after school clubs or play any sports.
Doesn't offer information about herself or her family.
I know she lives with her mom and two high-school aged brothers. When I look her up in our school database, I learn that she is cousins with another girl in the class, but the two never acknowledge each other during class, and I wouldn't have guessed that they were related.
My school has a policy that teachers greet students at the door (which I would probably do anyway), and I say hello to her, by name, every day. I make a point of letting her know that I notice when she is absent. Recently, her desk has been close to where I stand when I present my mini-lessons, and I am forever putting things down on her desk. I joke with her about having to share her space. She smiles and says, "It's ok, Miss."
And yet she is so, so quiet.
Two weeks ago, on Valentine's Day, I brought note cards and asked my sixth graders to write a note of appreciation to someone that mattered to them. Kids wrote to teachers, to family members, and to friends. I was surprised when L wrote to me.
Dear Dr. Wilcox,
Thank you for all that you do for us.
Thank you for the books that you recommend to me.
They have become some of my favorites this year.
I wrote her a note back the next day. She seemed surprised.
L has read a lot this year. She goes through about a book a week. Most recently, she's been on a historical fiction kick. She read STOLEN GIRL by Marcia Forchuk Skrypuch and then devoured A NIGHT DIVIDED in about three days. I watched her finish that book on Friday, sneaking the last few pages underneath her desk as I did my mini-lesson on writing a conclusion for literary analysis (we are three weeks from our state test).
After school, I catch her as we are walking out of our awards assembly. I acknowledge how quickly she finished A NIGHT DIVIDED and ask if she has something to read for the three-day weekend. She hesitates and says, "Yes," but then recants.
"I don't have anything," she says.
"We have to take care of that. Do you have five minutes?" She says that she does and we head for the library. I am thinking she might like THE WAR THAT CHANGED MY LIFE, but that one is not on the shelves right now. I pull COUNTDOWN by Deborah Wiles.
"Take a look at this one," I say. L thumbs through it and decides that she will try it.
"Will one be enough?"
"You want two?" I say. "It's a three-day weekend. Take two, just to be sure you have enough."
We choose another and she heads out books in hand.
L is becoming a reader.
Opening up whole new worlds and possibilities for herself.
And yet there are 65 more of them.
And I wonder how many of them have become readers this year.