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Today

Today, teachers at my school administered a progress monitoring writing assessment…one of a few that is being used to tailor writing instruction in preparation for the BIG statewide writing test in February.

Today, I watched my students take deep breaths as they prepared to receive their writing prompt packets.

Today, I watched students gasp as they heard the packets hit their tables.

Today, I saw some students get down to business as they immediately began reading the texts they would be responding to.

Today, I watched other students begin to shut down, overwhelmed by the task ahead of them.

Today, I watched a young man who struggles daily with self control grab his hair with both hands in a sign of frustration.

Today, I heard his refusal to do the assignment, unable to fathom the thought of comprehending a prompt he didn’t understand and text he had no interest in.

Today, I coaxed that child to give it a go with gentle words that promised he just had to try.

Today, I looked across the room from my perch and nodded approval and assurance to the same young man.

Today, I sat up in surprise as I observed that young man begin to write.

Today, I watched a different young man, sitting at his “island” sink lower and lower in his seat, also overwhelmed by the packet on the desk in front of him.

Today, I heard his refusal and saw him shake his head in rebellion.

Today, I gently urged him to not let the system beat him.

Today, I watched him gingerly turn a page, start to read, but stop midway through the first page.

Today, I slid my chair over and told this young man that I had bragged on him in front of another class because he had shared a poignant idea in his own class.

Today, I told that young man that I believed in him…that he WAS smart…that it was okay to let others see what I had witnessed so far this year.

Today, I watched him begin and stop a second time in aggravation.

Today, I dug down deep and told the young man to pretend he was reading a rival high school’s basketball playbook…to search for the secret reasons why this school has such a phenomenal team…knowing that the way to this young man’s heart was through his favorite sport.

Today, I watched this man plow through endless words, pick up his own pencil, and add his own thoughts to his own paper.

Today, I was inspired by my precious students…young men and women who have to work ten times harder than most kids…to rise above what they thought themselves capable.

Today, I was reminded what a true honor it is to watch young minds truly stretch and grow.

Today was a good day.

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