Early in the year I read the book Ish by Peter Reynolds. I read this book many times throughout the year, but this first time is always my favorite. At our school, this book is usually introduced to the students long before I get them in fourth grade, but for some reason they are silent and spellbound when we pick it up for that first time.
Last year, I shared that thought with the students, to which one replied, "It's because every teacher has a different voice, and it gives a different feeling to the book."
Right back at them. Every class shares something different, reflects in a new way, or responds to the book in a manner I haven't yet heard. Some take Ish very literal, as if there is an end goal and they haven't yet reached it in the way they perceive it should be reached or completed. Others take a more general stand and see Ish as a "close enough" to succeed or feel successful. I hope I am explaining this clearly, it is sometimes hard to capture the thoughts and reflections of 9/10 year olds.
This past year was no exception. It wasn't uncommon to hear "-ish" added on to day-to-day conversations throughout the year from my students, sometimes making sense and sometimes not. And, in true form, on the last day of school I had this conversation with one student:
Me: How are you feeling about being a 5th grader?
J: It's complicated.
Me: Explain what you mean by "complicated."
J: Well, I feel like I could do my best. I could do what they ask, but it might not be what I want to happen or what I want to show. Like I will do something that I feel isn't perfectly right, but not really know how to change it.
Me: A little confidence goes a long way. Be proud of doing your best.
J: Then I guess I'm ready.
J: Ready. (pause) ISH.