Refreshments were purchased.
Tables and chairs were moved.
Personal narratives were printed.
Students and parents were present.
Speech in hand, I began, “Welcome to our first publishing party.” My hands were shaking, my cheeks were flaming, my heart was pounding and all I was doing was welcoming the crowd.
I wasn’t an eleven-year-old preparing to read my very personal narrative. I wasn’t the one revealing anything about myself. I wasn’t sitting in front of a crowd waiting for my writing to be assessed.
I was just the teacher. I was just the one hoping for shock and awe. I was just the one celebrating the incredible progress my sixth graders had made.
The terror eventually began to subside as my students, one-by-one, read their stories. I sensed their nerves and sent out silent thoughts to help calm them. I caught their eyes from the back of the room and smiled reassuringly. They read with such confidence that I was whisked away into their world, one without fear and anxiety.
As I circulated around the room, listening to their different stores, I no longer saw them as my students, but as writers.
Here were 35 children reading with gusto, their stories slowly unfurling. Tears pricked my eyes as I listened to the story about the birth of a baby sister. Laughter filled my lungs as I listened to a story of being locked out of the house by a four-year-old. Cheers silently escaped my mouth as I listened to a student recount her winning goal.
In the span of 45 minutes these students had successful told their stories, inviting us all to zoom into that one moment in their lives.
Pride. That is what I felt today. Pride. It is what I feel everyday.