Hug Your Family

I tend to add some comments to my homework to remind my students to share themselves. To acknowledge who is important in their lives and let them know. Show them. You know - before their big fifth graders and don't want to hug their moms and dads anymore.

So yesterday I wrote "Hug your family."

In their agendas the next morning I had a few notes in agendas - most in the form of a smiley face written by mom or a check mark from dad.

Today, one of my students wrote it again on her own.

Then she walked up to me, and said - simply - "Hug your family."

Then she gave me the biggest hug possible from her little fourth grade arms.

My extended family.

Conference Time

This year is flying by. I can't believe it is already the end of the first quarter, and I haven't blogged more than - um - once? It's not for lack of activity, that's for sure. I attribute the lack of blogging to the sudden lack of time. I swear someone stole a few hours a day from me.

The end of the quarter also means - (insert scary music) - CONFERENCE TIME. This is the 2nd year I have offered home visits as a conference option for parents. Why come to me, when I can come to you!??

I have had a handful of these conferences in the past few weeks - but tonight's visit was the most exhausting. I can honestly say I was only able to squeeze in 3 sentences of actual teacher conference dialogue between the two boys chatting - with me - at the same time - about EVERYTHING. Only one of the boys is my actual student - but the other is an older brother that once attended our school. I walked in the door and they greeted me with hugs. AND, oh, the wonderful smells of home cooking. I do not encourage that families feed me - and I try to avoid "dinner time" conferences - but something tells me that no matter what time I chose for the conference, they would have fed me.

So, hugs upon entrance. Then a whirlwind tour of the boys' room, parents room, family room, game room, art work on walls, porcelain figurines that have after-factory marker embellishments. And, of course, the bathroom. It takes everything I have to not say "oh, so this is where you poo..." Instead, I replace it with something about the wonderful light fixture or hand made rugs.

I am seated at the dinner table - the head of the table. I am served delicious food - and dessert - with various beverages laid out in front of me. The boys surround me with family pictures and stories that I'm sure the mama wouldn't necessarily want to be shared on my first visit. Tales of when the chairs used to be covered in plastic and the time they were locked out of their house and did I "want to see the window they had to break into?"

This insight is priceless. The hugs from grandma, the cheek kisses from mom, and the hugs and handshakes from the boys.

Learning. I learn about them and where they are from and their history. And really, only then, am I ready to teach them.