Writing without fear. Writing with love…

My 2nd Grade Students 2013-2014

My 2nd Grade Students 2013-2014

“Everyday Acts of Kindness” has been a constant topic of discussion in my second grade classroom since the start of the year. My class cubs are an extraordinarily amazing group of human beings. I’m in awe of the amount of cultural capital/forms of knowledge they bring to each discussion at such young ages. I could listen to them all day. Building on  “Everyday Acts of Kindness” we began a discussion about – Needs and Wants.

To introduce the concept we read the book, A Chair for My Mother. This is a heartwarming story about a family & the values of saving and working together towards a common goal after all their belongings are burned in a fire. To build on the theme of community & giving the author illustrates how friends and neighbors bring furniture to the new apartment. However, noticeably missing is a television, x-box, etc. As a class we discuss how the girl, who along with her waitress mother, save coins in a big jar in hopes that they can someday buy a big, new, comfortable chair for their new apartment — the kind of chair her mother deserves after being on her feet all day in the Blue Tile Diner. Into the jar also goes the money Grandma saves when she gets a bargain at the market.

It’s a good story that builds on our discussions of “Everyday Acts of Kindness” and “Giving”. After our discussion, I drew two large circle maps (Thinking Maps – used to brainstorm all of our thoughts about the concept of “Needs” and “Wants”). In the center of the circle map we wrote the topic we wanted to brainstorm. Some questions we wanted to answer were – What can we not live without? What are things we need to live? What does your heart need? What does your body need? If you can have anything in the world what would you want? We are still building on our thoughts and will add to the circle maps tomorrow. Tonight as part of their homework they need to ask their family – What are the families needs? They also have to come up with some ideas about what their community may need and what our earth needs? The families needs, communities needs, earth’s needs will be written into the circle map using a different white board marker color in order to aid in our ability to classify the needs. Throughout the week we will add more to our maps as we prepare to organize our thoughts and write a paper on “Needs” and “Wants” and what we each have the power to do in making our world a kinder place.

My 2nd graders spent some time brainstorming a few of their "Needs" & "Wants"

My 2nd graders spent some time brainstorming a few of their “Needs” & “Wants”

Adding to the Circle Map (brainstorming) 12-3-2013

Adding to the Circle Map (brainstorming) 12-3-2013

Recording what he believes he & others may need.

Recording what he believes he & others may need.

There have been moments in my life that have been extremely challenging and I have struggled. I’m not perfect, however with each challenge (I now view these challenges as pathways) I have discovered the power gratitude can have in my life – it all began with realizing I can not control circumstances, events or anyone BUT myself. With each pathway I’ve clung to cultivating an attitude of gratitude and have expected myself to extend that further into my everyday actions and thoughts. So now that my student’s actions are springing from a desire to be kind and show kindness to themselves and others I want them to realize that they are not too young and no act of kindness is too small to help their families, communities, and planet. As we discussed other ways we can/could show kindness one of my students had a wonderful idea to share their stories with others “so it can help them if they are having a sad day.” Another said “maybe I can write a funny story to cheer them up,” another said “I can write a letter and tell them why they are important.” I said, “YES, YES, YES!!!”  They made me cry. I was deeply moved to witness their hearts in action.  So we decided as a class to write letters to whomever needs cheering up, to whomever just needs to hear a funny story, or to whomever needs someone to tell them they are important.

This is where we need your HELP. My students need people to write letters to. They are ready to write letters to anyone who request one. I hope, no, I pray that I can get responses to this blog requesting a letter from one of my second grade students. So I need at least 21 request (I have 21 – 2nd graders). They are excited and looking forward to putting their hearts into each letter and are hopeful it will make someone smile. My class cubs mean the world to me. I want them to always be filled with questions. I want them to always question. I want them to be able to put things into perspective. I want them to be able think critically and not settle for the status quo. So, pplleeaassee…help me be of service to them.

If you would like to request a letter from one of my students please tell us a little about yourself and share with us your story and need. We would like to mail you a response. If you are not comfortable with sharing you address I understand, I can share my email address if you prefer.

Help my second grade students realize that their HEARTS, their WORDS, their TIME and ACTS OF KINDNESS can bring peace and love to their life and to the receiver’s life as well.

With love and deep respect,

-Joyce Ann

Joyce 12/2013

Joyce 12/2013

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A heart full of gratitude, appreciation and love

My second grade students can’t get enough of this song  right now. At the end of each day they have an opportunity as a class to choose to individually say something kind about another classmate or dance/sing. Another teacher in my grade level shared “What does the fox say?” on Monday and my kids have been super excited about it all week. As their chosen reward we have all been Ring-ding-ding-ding-dingeringeding AND  Wa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-powing…they can’t get enough of this song and I can never get enough of them. I love what I do **smile**

There are no words that can possibly describe the love I have for each of my class cubs. They are truly 21 of the most amazing 6 & 7 yr olds I know. Each day is an absolute blessing and HONOR to be in the same room with them. I am blessed with their smiles, their laughter, their honesty, and their love.

Every day my kids show up (we have one of the best attendance percentages in the entire school) and are completely genuine. They are some of the most tenacious individuals I know. Some come from single parent households or live with multiple families in a small apartment. All qualify for free breakfast and lunch. Some are in the custody of a grandparent or aunt/uncle because a parent is either incarcerated, in rehab, deported or lost custody due to abuse. In the face of all this adversity they show up so happy to see me each morning full of stories to share. I am inspired by their genuine positivity, strength and ability to overcome their fears and be completely and bluntly honest.

At the end of each day I reflect and think about the day spent with my class cubs. I replay the day and think about what worked and what didn’t. The one thing that is a constant is the amount of insight they have even at such young ages. This leads me to think about all that I have learned from them and continue to learn from them. They have taught me that there is no time to get swept up in the hardships of life and that the ability to put things into perspective is an absolute blessing. Life is full of struggle. The way in which we engage those struggles helps to shape who we are. My class cubs remind me of the importance of being hopefully realistic.

Life is good! I am full of love. I am loved! Working at being mindful, practicing mindfulness is renewing my connections to those around me. No longer am I too busy to listen, to comfort or just hang out with a friend. Mindfulness is also helping me to be more selfless and to show more compassion and be more compassionate.

The simple act of taking the time to think about what I am grateful for and who I’m grateful for brings me back to being myself and I am peace and joy.

– J