3rd Grader: You know what Ms. Jakey? I’m not interested in dancing.
Me: That’s totally fine. But we’re in school. And it’s a class. So you have to participate. It’s just kind of the way the game of school works. When you finish school you’ll have more freedom, to choose what you want to participate in. But until then, from my perspective, it will be of great benefit for you to learn how to play the game.
You know what I mean?
3rd Grader: Yeah.
3rd Grader: Hey Ms. Jakey! Remember me?
Me: Of course I remember you. It’s nice to see you!
3rd Grader: No but do you remember? I was like your star dancer!!
Me: Yes, I remember! You are really good at counting and always knew all the choreography.
3rd Grader: Yeah, I counted for the whole class!
Me: I remember!
2nd Grader: Ms. Jakey, what’s wrong with your neck?
Me: My neck is OK. Why do ask?
2nd Grader: Because you are wearing that thing around it so it doesn’t move.
Me: Oh! This is just a scarf. But when I wear it with my vest, maybe it looks a little like a neck brace?
2nd: Oh! So it’s OK?
Me: Yes, it’s fine. Thanks for asking :)
Me: I’m looking forward to seeing you next week! We’ll have about 3 hours to spend together so think about what you’d like to do and let me know.
4th Grade Mentee: Akkkk, Ms. Jakey I’m so excited! OK, so here are the things that I like to do:
- bake / cook (we could make cookies at my house!)
- go to the beach (a San Francisco beach)
- jumping (I like to move)
- going anywhere (I pretty much like to go anywhere)
Me: Those all sound like great options!
5th Grader: Ms. Jakey, don’t take this personally but I don’t think dance class is the right place for me.
Me: OK. Thanks for letting me know. Is there anything I can do to help with that? Like is there anything I can do differently to make it a different and better experience for you?
5th Grader: No, I don’t think so. I just know it’s not right for me.
Me: OK, fair enough.
This short interaction reminded me of how often we all go on auto-pilot, especially in the morning - lol! :) This time it was the student, but often it’s me.
5th Grader: Hey Ms. Jakey!
Me: Hey! Good Morning!
5th Grader: Good.
Beginning of Class
Me: I had some sad stuff happen in my family this weekend. I don’t really want to talk about it, but I don’t have the energy to fight you on anything. So I’d just really appreciate if we could all try to do our best and if our class goes smoothly. Do you know what I mean?
3rd graders: (with general unanimity and understanding) Yessss.
End of Class
3rd grader: Ms. Jakey, you know when you said that something sad happened in your family? What happened?
Me: My cousin passed away. And I was really close to her. Thanks for asking.
3rd grader: I’m sorry you’re sad Ms. Jakey. I hope it get’s better.
Me: Thank you so much. That’s very kind of you.
As I’m putting down painters tape on the auditorium floor, I walk by a 5th grader eating breakfast at a table.
5th Grader: Oh, the weekend!
Me: Are you looking forward to the weekend?
5th Grader: Well, you know, same-old same-old.
Me: What do you mean?
5th Grader: Well, it’s always the same thing, every weekend…
Me: Which is?
5th Grader: Hanging out in the jacuzzi.
Me: Oh! Do you have a jacuzzi at your house? Or close by to your house?
5th Grader: No, there’s one at the motel we’re staying at.
Me: Oh, I see. For how long have you been at the motel?
5th Grader: About 2 weeks now.
2nd Grader: How do I get one of those?
Me: Do you mean a CD?
2nd Grader: Yeah, if I had one I could practice the dances at home.
Me: That’s a really good point. I wonder if there’s a way to burn CD’s for everyone in dance class.
2nd Grader: Why don’t you just have the 5th graders do it? They’re always on their computers.
Me: That’s a great idea! I need to think about how that might work because I think it would be great if all students could have CD’s. That would be 500 CD’s though…. because that’s about how many students take dance class. Hmmm. Thanks for letting me know you’d like one. I’m going to think about how we might be able to make this happen.