Wednesday, August 17, 2011

it's about time to remind ourselves


What comes out of your mouth is powerful. It can enhance or damage another person’s ego. You might never know either.
     “It’s about time.”
     That saying sticks in my head, and it pops up often in my conversations.
     There is a whole lot of ways of turning that statement around and around examining it from all angles. More importantly, it’s the inflection in the voice that conveys the real message. I am certain of that.
      “It’s about time,” was not a statement that I made as a teacher unless there was a smile on my face and a one-on-one rapport had been established previously. Laughter in the classroom is the perfect medicine, and respect comes from a mutual trust between individuals. I tread lightly as the professional and adult with the dignity of each student.
     One year I had a very talented writer in sixth grade and he kept telling me about a fantasy novel that he was working on at home. Often his excuse for not getting his writing assignments done at night was that he was slaving over his novel. 
     Yeah, I would think to myself. That sounds familiar. We’re all doing that.
     It was appropriate that we had to have a lengthy teacher-student talk about priories and multi-tasking. I didn’t think that anything I had said about my own writing life sunk in, but apparently it was working very well, except that I wouldn't know until later. 
     There is one of the beauties of being an effective role model. You can't count on ever seeing the results. Sometimes you do, and sometimes you won't.
     The day came toward the end of the year when my student came flying in with a huge bundle under his arm. He waited until there was no one else at my desk and then deposited his manuscript. He scurried off to his seat, and I could see from his eyes peering up at me, that he was waiting to hear what I had to say. His feet were tapping on the floor and he was twiddling his pen back and forth.
     I looked at the cover, and flipped through some pages. Hmm.This looked better than I had thought. Maybe there was something to it. At least I was giving him credit for sticking with it.
    I walked over to his desk, and with a slight smile on my face looked at him and said, “it’s about time.”
     The look I got back was priceless. We were good to go as teacher-student forever now. 
     To this day when his name pops up in my head, I think good thoughts about  the first of many novels he still has in him to come out for the public.
    Later during a free period I read the novel, and I was overwhelming positive with the way he had expressed himself. 
     Knowing that sixth graders with their exuberance of hormones don’t like to be drawn or singled out, I decided not to make a celebration of the event. A long personal note was written with a coupon for a novel or two from the box of freebies that I kept beside my desk as rewards was all that was required of me.
     Perhaps, "it's about time," that I wrote those thoughts down to remind all my fellow teachers, authors and especially myself, that we are the encouragement for each other in the writing life.