Friday, March 2, 2018

sol #2: big mac on three

Found out last minute that JT from my ELA class is moving. So, beginning of the class today, I asked the class to think about something they might like to say to him in a letter that we would write towards the end of the block.

After they had written their notes, we met in a community circle. My coteacher and I had snooped through the notes, and we were so touched, and also curious about a nickname we didn't even know about - Big Mac. We sat down together and opened the floor up for sharing. 

First, EB explained that a handful of the boys just started calling each other Big Mac. I didn't really understand, and then IO asked me, "You've never had a Big Mac?" The kids went on to say that one day someone called another the name, then it stuck.

Then TF shared. She started by describing how at the beginning of the year, she was really upset that she was in a class with seventh graders (she's in eighth). She spent a lot of the first part of the school year being upset, but finally, she began talking to the seventh graders, and JT was one of the first kids she began to speak to. She said she was sad she wasn't ever going to be able to wink at him again, or see him wink back. She started to really tear up when she related the next story. You see, early on in the year, she had asked him for his snapchat user name, and she had it all along, but tears were really falling when she then added, "I had it. I had it all this time, and I never added him." That was when KA came over with tissues, but like half the box worth, and so every started giggling. Thankful for a little respite in that moment, but I am so proud of her reflection and courage to share something that I bet she now wishes she had done differently.

Another student relayed that he was also sad to have him leave, but it came with some comic relief. "You guys, it feels like a funeral!"

Then AO added, "Yeah, look, even Ms. Brezek is in all black!"

Luckily we were laughing and wrapping up, when EB asked to speak one more time. He sat there, on the little stool, leaning over, elbow on knee, pointing at JT, "Just remember, *this* is your home."

This is why I teach. These moments. Of course, I'm devastated that we're losing a great member of our ELA family, but to read my kids' letters, to hear the way they responded to this news, to feel the love in the class, this is why I do everything I do.

I'm reminded of Brené Brown and her new book, Braving the Wilderness. One of her tenants revealed in her research this time is "People are hard to hate close up. Move in."

It's the sweet spot in the school year, when we have formed those relationships. We've 'moved in' on the lives of one another. And to hear from a student after student, some in tears, saying how much they'll miss a peer (who some had no desire to even know on day one), well if that isn't magic, I'm not exactly sure what is.

Big Mac on three!


  1. Your post gave me chills. You nailed it...those are the moments why we teach. The moments that show that we are community. The moments when everything falls into place. As you said, this is the "sweet spot" in the year and I love it!

  2. What a wonderful story to start my day with!
    Thank you

  3. I'm sorry you're loosing one of them - it's never easy. But at least you have this amazing memory! P.S. I love TF! Tell her I say hi! :)

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  5. Reading this and thinking back on the moment makes it more sad because now he is actually gone. I like the way you describe in detail people’s reactions and actions. I’ll send this to JT if he hasn’t seen this already.

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  9. This is Jovanny and I miss you guys:( Don't worry I'll try to visit some time soon ;)


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