Every Friday morning I volunteer at a local elementary school, teaching a lesson to 25 students in a second grade classroom. This morning their very brave teacher and I led the two dozen eight-year-olds in a painting project. The kids loved the activity – but after the artwork was moved to the hall to dry, some semi-intensive cleaning inside the classroom was needed. While the students and their teacher continued with the rest of their school day, I quietly stayed in the back of the class, washing brushes and wiping tables.
As I cleaned, the students conducted their daily “morning meeting” – which consists of a variety of mini-activities designed to help the students practice the skill of (respectful) conversation with other people. I observed one activity where a student was selected to share something of special meaning or importance to him/her, and was allowed to talk about that special item/event/person for 20-30 seconds. The student then asked his/her peers if any of them had follow-up questions, and the “special” student was then responsible for fielding the questions and providing appropriate answers.
I heard five different students share about their “something special” – and was truly touched (and sometimes amused) by what each student found meaningful enough to proudly bring to the attention of his/her peers. For example, one student recently learned that the face of his watch actually glowed in the dark – and proudly showed the faint green hue to his impressed peers. Another student made a rocket out of paper, but hadn’t used one single piece of tape on it at all – everything was held together by making cuts and slits and having each part of the rocket fit together like a puzzle. This student was incredibly proud of herself – and her peers thought her rocket was pretty cool, too. A third student shared (bragged) that his parents spoke Polish, and that he was getting good enough to read in English and in Polish – and walked around the room displaying a Polish children’s book so that the other students could see the foreign words.
Witnessing the proud-yet-shy body language of each student, and hearing the excited-yet-tentative tone of their voices, caused me to gently smile at each of them. I loved getting a small glimpse into what these students found ‘precious’ – and hope that they each get to retain their enthusiastic innocence a wee bit longer.