Let’s all hang in there, even though nothing seems to be moving and we seem like we are stuck in endless dark and the sun will never come back, and we will always wake up in the dark, walk the dog in the dark, drive home in the dark.
We can’t tell by looking from one day to another, but the days are getting longer.
Yesterday, in Portland, night was 11 hours and 22 minutes long. TODAY, it’s 11 hours and 21 minutes long.
One minute. FOR REAL? One measly little MINUTE? I lived a WHOLE DAY and all I got to show for it was ONE MORE MINUTE OF SUN?
We can’t tell from looking at it, but the Earth is round.
The little part we can see looks flat, though.
We can’t tell from what kids can do in January, what language is growing in their heads.
But if we just keep at it, keep
TEACHING IN THE LANGUAGE
instead of teaching ABOUT the language,
then, just like January is imperceptibly shifting towards June,
THE STUDENTS TOO will shift towards June.
Might not be THIS June.
Might be NEXT June.
Or next October.
Or next February.
But they WILL shift.
They aren’t all the Earth, though. They’re not all the same planet.
They won’t all shift at the same rate.
Some are little Mercuries, and they go fast, learn fast, want speed, want to RUN into the language, and they will shift quick, cause they take the input you give them each day, and they repeat it to themselves, and they actually study those notes they insist on taking in your nice deskless classroom and they go go go in the language.
Some are Neptunes, slowly wending their way in the language, dreamily tuning in and tuning out in class, perhaps preoccupied by heavy things, maybe by things so heavy that it would break your heart to know them.
Maybe, if you let them be, and let them unfold, and build a supportive place where a kid on a timeline like that can feel successful and good and happy and loved and included and where they can see that they ARE growing, then they will slowly turn, not only toward the language, but toward YOU. And they will unwrap the mystery of what it is that preoccupies them at such a young age.
Maybe you will earn their trust.
Maybe you will start earning the trust of kids that don’t trust many grown-ups in the school, because you are the one who lets them be.
You are the one who lets them unfold at their rate.
And showed them that they were, in fact, making progress.
And celebrated that.
I urge you to go easy on yourself, and go easy on your students, and know that it’s HARD to trust natural processes, EVEN WHEN THEY ARE SCIENTIFICALLY-MEASURED AND PROVEN.
It’s hard to TRUST and KNOW and FEEL that January is moving and growing into summer.
It JUST FEELS SO DARK AND COLD.
It’s hard to trust and know and FEEL like the Earth is round.
I mean, we don’t live on the space station.
Looks pretty flat to me from here.
So, if it’s hard to trust that these basic facts of science are true, on a day-to-day, here-and-now basis, then think how much harder it is to trust that this kid is making progress, and that one is too, and so is this other one, when there is no road map for that kid, and no one has proven that little Johnny in the third row will EVER not say “me llamo es.”
But, we WILL get to June.
Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise.
One day, that day will come, like it does every year, when we go to the store on the way home, and we realize, walking the cart out to the parking lot afterwards, that it is STILL LIGHT IN THE SKY and we ran an errand after school, IN THE DAYLIGHT. We will realize then, that all those minutes here and there added up, day after day, when night seemed to have taken over for good.
We WILL get to that day, and then we WILL get to June, which, here in Portland, it feels like all you see is sun, sun sun, cause we are so far north.
We WILL get there.
And little Johnny WILL make progress.
As long as you keep giving him the language.
Just turn on the language, and keep shining it, and hang in there.