I Like Cats (and other musings of a second grader)

A quick post tonight to continue with day four of NaBloPoMo!  (I’m not entirely convinced I’m using that word as the proper part of speech.)

My husband and I had our daughter’s fall parent-teacher conference today.  The teacher opened with her recent realization that our daughter has many layers.  (I was a little concerned that this was the opener…what kid doesn’t have many layers?)  She did go on to suggest that our daughter’s many life experiences as an adopted black girl in a white suburban community with tenuous ties to her biological family has probably influenced the many defensive layers she’s amassed, so that calmed me down a bit.

She said at first she was very concerned with our daughter’s lack of academic skills, but now, two months into the school year, she’s discovered that confidence has a lot to do with how our daughter demonstrates her learning readiness.  This revelation occurred for her during a one-on-one lunch in which they discussed how our daughter felt about the recent loss of birth grandmother, and this gave the teacher the chance to talk with her about the her own experiences with grief as a young child, all of which paved the way for them to have some great conversations about family; each of them learned some important information about the another, and after this, our daughter started responding much differently to this teacher’s high expectations of her regarding academics.  (And this teacher has some high expectations.  The third spelling list of the year included “Black Locust,” “Quaking Aspen,” “Carbon Dioxide,” and “interaction.”  Yes, in second grade.)

I’m glad this the teacher had a chance to really connect with our daughter, and I wish it had taken place a little sooner.  A colleague from my work on racial identity in education often suggests to teachers that research suggests white students learn from the teacher, while students of color learn for the teacher.  Nothing could be truer of our daughter, and I wish that more teachers took this ideology to heart and let it influence their teaching of students of color from day one.

We got a chance to read something that our daughter had recently written during a free write.  It’s endearingly childish at times and entirely revelatory about her life experiences and their impact on her identity as a seven year old.  She seamlessly weaves her thoughts on sea creatures with her delicate connections to her birth family.  I’ll close with what she wrote, typos and spelling errors included:

I like cats.  They are my favorite.  I alos like dogs.  They are my favrite and I like bike.  They are fun and my favorite of all is ocean.  I love The Ocean.  Crabs are silly.  My mom don’t live with me.  But I still love her and I love my grandma and my friend is Emmy and also [my teacher].  I like the ocean.  It is my favate thing.  I love shraks.  They are good to stay away from them.  But I still like it and also my favorite is dolphins.  They are fun to play with.  They are gray and smooth and kind of soft and cute and my favorite.  My brother is A___.  He is silly and has black skin like me.  I love him.  I love my friends and they are so silly that I’m gona laf and that is it.

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5 thoughts on “I Like Cats (and other musings of a second grader)

  1. So lovely! Thanks for the reminder about learning “for” the teacher as opposed to learning “from” the teacher. Gives me some ideas about some of the academic challenges I am seeing with my own daughter and her teachers.

  2. You know why I love this… I am honored on Emmy’s behalf that she is included in this list of things precious to your beautiful daughter.

    • I’ll try to dig up some more information for you Mimi…I’m swamped at the moment with family stuff and my grandpa’s health situation, but I’ll get back to you! I know we rely heavily on the work of Beverly Daniel Tatum and her book WHY ARE ALL THE BLACK KIDS SITTING TOGETHER IN THE CAFETERIA? It’s a great one, but I don’t know that it speaks directly to this issue. Let me do some research!

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