It was going to take more than the usual calm down speech to bring him back. After a minute or two it hit me. I knew exactly what I had to get. I was fairly certain it was in my office, but I wasn’t quite sure where. Luckily, I found it rather quickly. And I handed it to him. He took it willingly.
What I handed him was a hardback copy of We Are In A Book by Mo Willems. See, I have known this young man for several years and when he was younger I remember he and his brother would sit on my lap while I read this book to them. It was a special time for all three of us. And I’m glad I remembered it.
While he was too big and too old to sit on my lap, he was now at the age where he could read the book. To me. That is just what I asked him to do. And gradually. Page by page. He began to uncoil. He may or may not have known why I had him read the book to me. But it didn’t matter. What mattered was that he and I were able to connect in the present because we had shared in the past.
One of the beauties of my role as an administrator is that I get to watch children over an extended period of time. Which means, if I am lucky, and I make the effort, I can create shared experiences that are invaluable. By the time he had finished reading the book, he was calm and ready to return to class.
When I reminded him that he could now read a book to me that I previously had to read to him, he beamed. It had only been two years. But in those two years, much has taken place. He and I had both changed schools and we just happened to end up together. And in those two years we both had grown.
I don’t know that two years ago I was astute enough to have made such a quick decision. I am certain that two years ago he could not read the book to me nor would he had have calmed down as quickly as he did. But time has a way of inching us forward. Whether we realize it or not.
Each day we have the opportunity to plant seeds, to begin building relationships and to take the first steps. Not knowing what will come of of them.
Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
I must remind myself Dr. King’s words when I feel as if I am not making a difference. When I feel as if I am not making any progress. When I become frustrated because I am seeing the same students day after day after day.
Maybe I need to see it as planting seeds. Laying foundations. Taking steps.
Looking back at the young man’s reading, there is one thing that stood out to me. While he was able to read most of the words, he did lack expression. In two years, he will be in 5th grade. He will most likely, have learned to read with expression. Maybe by this point he will be ready to read the same book to someone who was once in his shoes. I just hope I am there to witness it.
But for now I will continue planting seeds, building relationships and taking steps. Not because I know what will come of them. But because I know what might become of them. And that is enough to keep me inching forward.