Monday, March 9, 2020


When I was a little girl, I loved to put on my mom's high heels, or my dad's rubber rain boots and tromp around the house. My balance, of course, was more than a little precarious.

And somehow, that image dances through my head pretty regularly these days.

Pretty much every time I write with my sixth graders.

Every day, I ask them to try on shoes that are a little too big.

One day it's all about point of view. "Read this short story," I say. "When you are through, we are going to write a poem from the main character's best friend's point of view."

And the kids slog valiantly ahead.

Another day we talk about theme. "Today we are going to write literary analysis essay that compares how the author develops the coming of age theme in two different texts," I say.

And the kids slog valiantly ahead.

Right now we are writing persuasive letters. The kids chose their own topics and audience.We should be allowed to keep our cell phones. We should have a school letter jacket. We should have more after school sports and activities for middle schoolers.

There is a lot more voice and energy in their writing.

They are excited because the audience is bigger than their teacher. We are actually going to give the letters to someone.

Tomorrow we have to try persuasive essays.

And those too big high heels and rubber boots are once again dancing around in my brain.


Julieanne said...

Isn’t amazing what energy comes in when
students have choice and their friends as an audience. Some valiant slogging is necessary and perhaps fun from time to time. I love the idea of trying on shoes that are a bit too big for you.

Elisabeth Ellington said...

I love this metaphor for what we do in the classroom--both what we ask of students and what we are doing ourselves. I've been teaching for 25 years now, but it still often feels like I'm trying to walk in too big shoes, and that perpetual challenge, that perpetual distance between what I'm trying to do and what I'm actually able to do, keeps me so engaged.