I have unshakable faith in children. They always show me the way. ♥

Thursday, April 3, 2008

slightly imperfect, as is

In my classroom I have a feeling board. It looks like this.

It serves many purposes for my First Graders. It allows them to recognize and name feelings (some, for the very first time), to see that one can feel a strong emotion and still manage self-control, to notice that feelings can, and do, change -- sometimes within moments.

It is an imperfect system, at best. Space allows for only six feelings listed with no crossover. But feelings don't come that way. They're multi-layered, confusing, and sometimes defy simple definition. I know this. We talk about it in the classroom. We discuss how it doesn't always quite work, about the need to change our card during the day, about talking with others, about taking down the feeling board altogether (goodness knows we could use the wall space!). Interestingly -- or perhaps, importantly -- enough, no class of mine has ever wanted to get rid of it. We have made changes, we've added and removed things, written books to supplement this need, but have never taken it down.

Ultimately, though, it is a flawed system. No matter how we may want it, emotions don't fit themselves into neat, handy little packages.

This has been on my mind, more frequently than normal, all week long.

A friend of mine, a dear friend that I have never seen in person, never touched or hugged or bumped her shoulder with glee, was killed in a car accident on Sunday.

So far this week I've been through denial, anger, acceptance, sadness, frustration, gratitude, disbelief, and about three other emotions that I don't think have been invented yet. With each one, I keep expecting it to be the last, that I will somehow choose this feeling and it will be the one that sticks, so then I can move on.

Except it persists in Not Working That Way.

Then I walk into my classroom in the morning, find the feeling board with my eyes and wonder (again) why what I've learned and discussed and known through twelve years of teaching doesn't somehow penetrate my own adult consciousness. Why is it that I know and understand the sheer magnitude of emotion for every single one of my six year olds and can't seem to find it for myself?

I keep saying: I'll get there. I will. But, where, exactly, am I trying to get? What am I trying to achieve? I don't want to forget Anj. I'm not going to disregard or push aside the joy of being her friend, of what I've learned from her, what I've admired and loved and aspired to. I'm not going to overlook how she loved me, how she somehow found inspiration from stories of my own, how we connected, over and over, through our sheer faith in the power of children.

I miss her. I know that. And maybe if I keep telling myself that I don't actually need to find some 'answer', maybe at some point I'll believe it.

I don't know the answer, but then... I'm not sure I know the question either.

♥ to all of you. You are truly a blessing. Please know that.

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