Let’s face it // Mondays stink. Or at least we typically expect them to stink. That is why, every Monday, I post seven positives from the previous seven days of the week as a reminder of what I have so that the week starts out on an upswing. There is much truth in the belief that happy people attract good things, so it is important to start the week out right. Sometimes it’s the more grand, but other times, it’s the simple things.
*NOTE: It’s been a long while since I’ve published a full 7 for seven, as my last heartbreak has kept me from being vulnerable in a such a public way. Although removed from the experience, as it happened this past July, I have a strong desire to dig deep for all that makes me smile and feel gratitude. This school year has been stressful, to say the least, compounded with life changes, lifestyle shifts, getting older, election anxiety (it’s real, folks), etc., etc.; I’m starting to feel the weight of the world. This may be a light-weight version of 7 for seven without revealing anything too personal, but my need to give just enough to reflect on all that is good in my life is now overwhelming and I’m leaning into that.
1. Text Message “Prank.” I wanted to create a fun hook to draw my students into their next project, so I thought about the ways in which they engage with one another, and one of those ways is through text messaging. My other goal was to lead students to a discussion about how reading and writing are connected and how both allow us to connect to others by simultaneously teaching us about others and about ourselves. I decided to tell them a personal story (without getting uncomfortably personal) and ask for their advice. I chose a story that happened when I was middle school (their age), so that they could better connect, and it also wouldn’t be me revealing something about my all-too-complex romantic life in my thirties (ha!). I asked a friend to help me out in creating the texts by changing his name in my phone contacts and sending him a script to follow (see the above texts). When I was in the eighth grade, I wanted to break up with my first ever boyfriend, but I was afraid to do it and sought the advice of my best friend. Instead of leaving the break-up to me, she decided to take it upon herself the next day before school started. To my surprise, my first-ever boyfriend had locked himself in the bathroom at school, and the teachers had a difficult time getting him out. Not only were my friends upset with me, as they thought I had asked my friend to do my dirty work for me, my teachers expressed disappointment in me for how things were handled. He was the new kid in school, so nearly everyone was both intrigued and sensitive toward him, which was great for him — not so great for me, who had done nothing wrong. That day was the first day in my life that I can remember having questions about my friendships and feeling like it was me against the world. It was a hard day in my middle school life. Anyway, I approached this story by telling my students this was a conversation I had with my friend last night, and I needed their advice because I felt like it was something they knew more about than my friends. “It felt like something that should have happened in middle school and not to an adult.” It was fun drawing from my acting experience, but what I didn’t expect was the brilliant and mature feedback my students gave me. They floored me with their sensitivity, insightful comments, and kindness towards me. Having classes full of mostly boys this year, it was a delight to see vulnerable, sweet side of them I don’t often get to see when they are competing for each other’s attention. In fact, if I hadn’t done this, I’m not sure I would have successfully opened up that side of them and connected to them that day like I did. Some of them opened up and shared with me their personal stories. Others came up to me and gave me hugs. One raised his hand and said, “Ms. Wright, I hope you don’t mind me saying this, but there are so many other fish in the sea.” My heart! After a while, I dug deeper and told them that I like to walk away from negative experiences by reshaping them into positive lessons. At first, they gave me too-specific lessons like, “Don’t ever tell a friend you want to break up with someone before you do.” This is what students in the 7th grade often tend to do when asked about the theme of a story — it gets closer to plot rather than a universal message. So I said, “Yes, but, this won’t ever happen to me ever again, so how can I take a lesson from this and apply it to other areas of my life?” This led them to say broader things like, “True friends will always have your back.” Then I said, “I don’t want to completely waste your time with my personal issues, and as we’re talking, I’m starting to see more and more how this is linked to what we learn in Language Arts.” This led my students to point out sentence structure and language choices in my text messages. They then talked about main idea, theme, how my story had an arch and a lesson learned (I was celebrating on the inside!). They also took it a step further, which is exactly where I wanted them to go, and told me how other people’s stories can help us to connect by seeing ourselves in them while also learning something new about someone else. VICTORY!! The times when lessons REALLY work are times that make me feel like all this hard work is really worth it, and they surprised me in ways I didn’t expect. More students responded and were engaged than ever before, and it reminded me that I need to continue to find creative ways to connect to them and get them to learn in such a way that they don’t even know they are doing it!
2. Mirrors and Windows. The project my students are now working on (introduced in the previous victory) is a writing activity. I set each student up with another student at a neighboring middle school and asked them to interview each other regarding a time they learned a lesson about a core value (respect, responsibility, integrity, teamwork, diversity, and honesty) through the help of a shared Google Doc. After learning about their assigned student, they will write an expository essay telling how the experience served as both a window and a mirror to their lives. I’m excited about this opportunity for my students, as I want them to start stepping outside of themselves and their personal bubbles, as 7th graders often have a difficult time doing. It’s been so much fun seeing my students get excited about engaging with a student from another school and getting to know him or her, and I’m looking forward to how this project will develop.
3. Cooking and Dancing. I love to cook, though I’ll admit, it doesn’t often happen when I’m by myself. That is why I enjoyed a night this weekend of cooking and dancing around the kitchen with a new friend of mine, knocking together whiskey glasses and flailing arms to the sounds of Otis and Cooke. Ah, bliss.
4. Sister Sighting. My sister stopped by briefly this past Saturday and came bearing pastries. Although it was a short visit, it’s always nice to see her smiling face. Bonus: She dropped off a beautiful red dress she designed and made for me. See photo and visit her at www.shopmisterwright.com. She’s über talented!
5. Antique Shopping. I went antique shopping in a neighboring small town with a friend of mine this past weekend and came away with a cute little beauty decanter. At one point, my friend blessed an entire shop by playing an old trumpet in the middle of the store. I chuckled at some cute little girls who stood mesmerized by his talent. Precious.
6. Pie! On the way back to my place after a day of shopping, my friend and I picked up a couple slices of pie at a famous pie shop. We calmly defeated the hoard of tourists and came out of there alive and elated with divine peanut butter and pecan pie.
7. S’mores by the Fire. Fall weather came to visit for one perfect night, and my friend and I took full-on advantage by building a fire and toasting some s’mores.
I hope to inspire you to reflect on all you have to be grateful & that your week brings you even more positivity + balance + bliss! Feel free to share your seven with me as well / or even just a couple!
Have a wonderful week!