About a month ago I started a new temp job. Easy clerical stuff, six-month assignment, and freedom to read or write if there’s no new stuff to type or file.
So every day I take with me something to read (physical book or something on my phone) and a notebook. I have three notebooks I alternate between, so I can jot down stories whenever I want. It’s convenient, except tonight I realized I couldn’t find my main notebook, the one I’ve been writing in for the past few weeks. I specifically remember bringing it out of the office with me when I left Friday.
Not in my writing bag. Green notebook, yes. Red notebook, yes. Blue notebook, no.
It wasn’t in my car.
Not by my computer.
Not in my bedroom.
I was beginning to get a bit concerned. While I could probably rewrite everything in this notebook, I didn’t want to. Partly because I probably liked it better the first time around, but mostly because I’m lazy.
Finally, I remembered that I’d brought home a lot of paper to recycle. My office doesn’t really recycle paper, even though they use a lot, so I usually grab what I can at the end of the day and bring it home to put in our recycling box.
My blue notebook was about 2 inches down.
So, short story long, here’s this week’s 8 sentences, from my blue notebook. I wrote an essay (creative nonfiction?) about one of my students in my remedial reading class, then decided I needed to tell the story from his POV, in his own voice. This chunk, from the first draft, is about testing the kids’ reading levels with a computerized test.
After about five minutes Mitchell finishes first, makes a big production of it.
“It’s not a race,” I tell the kids as one after another they yell out, “Finished.” “Take as much time as you need; we have the whole period.”
Approximately five out of twenty kids listen. The librarian shoots us dirty looks as the kids talk loudly to each other for the rest of class, but at least I get them to stay in their seats instead of wandering around knocking over books or leaving the library entirely.
Two weeks later, the text scores are back; my class of freshman, kids 13-16 years old, average a fourth grade reading level.
I pass back the individual scores, and Mitchell is impressed with his.
“I read like a kindergartner,” he says with an insolent grin; a smirk, actually, according to the word he uses in the story he writes for me later in class.
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I like Mitchell, though I’m guessing his cheek and bravado covers up how he truly feels about that reading score. As a teacher, I really related to this scene.
I think he really was proud of that score, in the same way I’m kind of proud when I bowl a 35 and everyone else tops 100. :D
Very interesting. I agree with Clare. Mitchell covers his humiliation with arrogance. He has a long haul as do the other kids. Nice writing, ED.
Unfortunately, Mitchell dropped out later in the year, because he could make a lot more money selling drugs than getting a legitimate job. It’s always sad to lose one of your kids. Even years later I still wonder what happened to him, which is a big reason of why I wrote this.
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He breaks my heart with his joke. This scene feels very real. Well done.
So much of working with kids like him – high risk, low motivation, lots of socioeconomic issues – is heartbreaking. But the rewards are worth it! Thanks for commenting!
Feels very true to life and these kids have such challenges ahead of them. Very well done snippet!
Yes, unfortunately these kids had a lot of issues holding them back. Fortunately I was able to help most of them become better readers.
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Interesting that he reads at a kindergarten level, but uses the word smirk in a story that he’s written. Did he deliberately throw the test or is there something more complex going on? Intiguing character.
He was very smart, probably one of the smartest kids in the class. He had a lot of homelife issues – mostly revolving around a father popping in and out of his life – and he reacted by acting out, as it got him attention from his dad. Very sad.
You have great word choice for this. I could picture most of what was going on and I really enjoyed the dialogue and internal.
My 8 sentences
Sounds just like my students.
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