Quick departure from the usual theme; this story is too much not to tell you about.
Unbeknownst to me until about five weeks ago, I live sorta near an ice skating rink. I mentioned this casually to a couple of people I know, and one of them suggested that we go ice-skating together. We’ve known each other for a few months as friends but this definitely was more of a first date. So I bundled up for the cold weather while trying not to look like the Michelin Man, and headed into the afternoon.
This rink is the cheapest ever. We got our skates for $2 and headed over to the ice, waddling like ducks and admitting to each other that we hadn’t skated in years. But we were feeling brave and emboldened in a first date way — what’s to lose when all we’ve invested is two bucks each, ya know? Stepping onto the ice nervously I clutched the wall as kids sped around me.
And then a boy rounded the bend and I saw his face.
A 6th grader.
I didn’t know his name but I definitely recognized his face and he definitely recognized mine as his sped past me while I gripped to the wall for dear life. Just my luck, right? Here I am, about to fall on my ass, and there’s a 6th grader whooshing past me at turbo-speed. Luckily he disappeared long enough for me to get my bearings, laugh about it with my date, and gingerly let go of the wall. No falls yet. We tried to get our footing as we continued to make our way around the perimeter when suddenly I felt my feet start to slip out from under me so I grabbed the closest thing — my date. Luckily neither of us fell. But when I looked up, who do you think was standing staring at us?
Two 7th graders.
Now I was at risk of not only falling in front of three students from my school but also revealing a bit more about my personal life than I’d planned. They probably realize that this guy isn’t my cousin. (No KY jokes please — I’m not going on dates with my cousin.) They looked away as soon as they saw me looking at them and we all got a chance to collect ourselves. I decided to be an adult and said hello to each student and then quickly filled in my date. Who nearly fell down laughing.
As I see it there are three silver linings to this first date/ice-skate with my students:
1. I actually did get better at skating while there (see pic for evidence that I wasn’t holding onto the wall for dear life the entire time).
2. The students (hopefully) see me as more of a human being — I got to see them do something they’re really good at and I’m NOT, which definitely makes me think about other hidden talents they have. I’d like to say something more eloquent here about asset versus deficit frameworks when working with students, something I think a lot about when it comes to my English Language Learners (aka basically all my students). I’m trying to figure out how to balance treating their native language as an incredibly vital asset that needs to be developed while also giving them the opportunity to improve their English language skills as much as possible since it is the language of power in this country. So I’m thinking about ice-skating as an analogy for other skills like language…if only ice-skating were the currency of power…
3. This should help dispel the rumor that the 6th grade teacher Mr. E and I are dating, a rumor begun by a 6th grader who, upon learning that I didn’t have a boyfriend suggested Mr. E because, “You’re both nice. And you’re both teachers.” Which would be a great start for compatibility except he’s gay….
[Update: We had a second date with a grand total of zero student sightings.]