Today in my class we read a new book in our Story Time. We have Story Time at the end of the day, a chance to all be together and sharing in something, calming down before the madness of afternoon dismissal begins and kids are fumbling around to find the right bus line or get to carpool on time or realizing halfway to either of those places that they’ve left their homework on their desk and the world is about to end. You know how it goes.
The new book today was called ‘If wishes were horses’. I can’t remember the author; I just remember that it was good. I love horses and anything with a cowboy/cowgirl angle so when I saw the book in the school library I had to check it out. I had no idea what Common Core standard it linked to, if any, or how I would use it in a mini-lesson (if at all), but I just wanted to read it and share it with my kids.
Put simply, the story is about a boy (a cowboy, of course) who wishes he had a horse. Poof! A horse appears. But then he wishes again, and another horse appears. And then again. And so on and so on until he has more horses than he knows what to do with. It was a great book. I mean, the characters shout’Yahoo!’ and there’s horses and a saloon and a magical, old, Stetson-wearing cowboy, so how could it not be a great book?! My kids loved it.
At the end of reading the book, we did a ‘Turn and Talk’. My kids turned to a partner on the carpet and talked together. The question to talk about was, ‘If you could wish for anything, what would you wish for?’ The kids relished the opportunity to dream wildly. There were some amusing responses. ‘I’d wish for a trillion dollars!’ said one. ‘I’d wish for doughnuts and doughnuts!’ said another. ‘I’d wish for video games!’ ‘I’d wish for food!’ ‘I’d wish for ice cream!’
And then the more thoughtful, ‘I’d wish for pencils, because my mum never had any pencils when she was a kid so I’d want to always have them so I could give them to her.’ Kids are lovely sometimes.
The best wish, though, came from a little girl who loves having an English teacher. She is the one who always smiles, gives you daily hugs, and asks on a regular basis, ‘Can you take me back to England with you, Miss L?’ Obviously as a teacher I don’t have favourites, but if I did she would be one of them. Of all the things she could wish for, she wished this: ‘I wish Miss L’s parents could see us.’ (To give a bit of context, my class recently interviewed my parents over Skype to ask about British culture. They could see my parents, but my parents couldn’t see them, only hear their voices.)
Of all the things this student could wish for, she wished for something as simple as having someone see her.
And then I started to think, what would I wish for as a teacher? What would I wish for my students? I thought, and these are my wishes:
I wish for my kids to be woken up with a smile and have breakfast every day.
I wish for my kids to have bookshelves at home full to breaking point.
I wish for my kids to be able to do more art and make more music.
I wish for my kids to be tested less but challenged more.
I wish for my kids to learn a new language.
I wish for my kids to be recognized as ‘good readers’ by the way they talk excitedly with their friends about their latest read, not by the way they write an answer to a question that begins ‘Using evidence from the text…’
I wish for my kids to be more than a grade or a level.
I wish for my kids to talk more and do ‘Speaking and Listening’ less.
I wish for my kids to read every day and get lost in it, without a Reader’s Response Journal next to them.
I wish for my kids to walk more.
I wish for my kids to go outside of their State or country, even if it is just once.
I wish for my kids to look up at the sky during recess and see cloud creatures.
I wish for my kids to be storytellers.
I wish for my kids to get to eleven years old and still want to be astronauts and authors and acrobats, and not think those are crazy, impractical dreams.
I wish for my kids to be kids. And I wish for them to have fun.
And okay, maybe sometimes I wish for them to be quiet and tidy the scissors away at the end of the lesson. But I’m only human, after all.