The annual 10-day shuffle took place yesterday. Principals across our district count heads and make phone calls in an effort to sync enrollment projections with actual enrollment. A lot is riding on these numbers, including teaching positions. Classrooms with low numbers take on students from other classrooms where numbers are higher. Combination classes are created. Teachers’ grade level assignments are switched. Fragile new bonds with colleagues and students are stretched; sometimes even severed. So, after spending countless summer days preparing for a year of teaching sixth grade writing, as of Tuesday I will be teaching fifth grade Social Studies and Science. But I am doing what I love.
Ramon is reminded that doing what he loves is important in “Ish” by Peter H. Reynolds. Reynolds’ simple, yet evocative line drawings tell Ramon’s story. Harsh words uttered without much forethought by an older brother lead to discouragement and dejection, while an encouraging act of kindness and appreciation by a younger sister strikes a chord. Realizing that his work has value because he is following his heart, Ramon once again embraces that which he loves.
Shortly before they packed up their textbooks and walked out of our classroom for the last time, I shared Ramon’s story with my sixth grade charges. It was my final chance to instill in them a love of creativity and to let them know that I believe in them. And like Ramon, I want them to remember that they have a voice worth hearing, if they remember to follow their hearts.