by Jean Valentine
My whole life I was swimming listening
beside the daylight world like a dolphin beside a boat
—no, swallowed up, young, like Jonah,
sitting like Jonah in the red room
behind that curving smile from the other side
but kept, not spat out,
kept, for love,
not for anything I did, or had,
I had nothing but our inside-
outside smile-skin ...
my paper and pen ...
but I was made for this: listening:
“Lightness wouldn't last if it wasn't used up on the lyre.”
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Listen to the poem, or print the poem here, on Jean Valentine's website.
Katie has this week's Poetry Friday round up at Secrets & Sharing Soda.
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I'm working hard this year to listen well to my students. I want to be the dolphin beside their boat; I want to be like Jonah, listening from inside.
It takes focus and concentration to listen. It's one of the most important things I can do: really listen to them and really hear them.
As you can see from the photos above, I've captured some of the phrases my students have said so that we can come back to their wise words over and over again throughout the year. This year, the word wall includes their words along with the vocabulary words we're learning throughout the day. We have related their words to some of the read alouds we've shared so far this year -- "Let's just try it!" goes with the spirit of approximation in ISH by Peter Reynolds; "I think we should..." goes with with the team work found in LITTLE BLUE TRUCK by Alice Schertle; the whole idea of listening carefully before acting goes with RABBIT AND SQUIRREL: A TALE OF WAR AND PEAS by Kara LaReau; and I'm sure you know who the children echoed when they said "It's all good" -- Pete the Cat!
It takes focus and concentration to listen. Everyday life conspires to move me on to the next thing I will say, rather than letting me linger on the things my students say to me and to each other.
Last Friday, we listened in awe to our classmate from China. She and her Poetry Friday reading partners found a poem about the Great Wall of China (in J. Patrick Lewis' MONUMENTAL VERSES). She told us about the Great Wall, which she has seen firsthand, first in fluent Chinese, and then in broken, but passionate English. Her partners read the poem to us. We listened.
It takes focus and concentration to listen. It's one of the most important things we can do.