Blog Your Blessings: Tell me how You're Like That Turtle
The first week of school for my classes was about building a sense of community, a place where every child is an interesting human being with a right and an obligation to learn. As my kids were becoming familiar with the class, I had them work in groups of three at the computers to get them used to working together as well as to get them near the computers.
I told them how much I like turtles and how I spend my vacation on an island that is a turtle sanctuary. There, many people volunteer to ensure that turtes make it from the nest to the ocean without interference from predators (including noisy, happy people who mean no harm but known no better). I told them that the turtles imprint the places they hatch so that when the females are ready to lay eggs around the age of 20, they come all the way home, lay their eggs, and go off again. Knowing home is part of survival. I told them the turtles are such a big deal on Topsail that on many a night during hatching season, there are at least 50 people at a nest waiting for something to happen.
Then, I asked them to watch my video clip of the newly hatched loggerhead turtle and to tell me how they are like that little guy.
Each class watched in complete silence. This was something. I had muted the computers, so the room was completely quiet. I didn't ask them to be quiet and it wasn't necessary, but there it was. We were all together on North Topsail Beach in North Carolina for a few minutes.
When they returned to their seats, they answered my question and offered me their thoughts.
They were surprised how small the turtle was and imagined the risks they take just to get into the water must be very great.
Can any of those people who were watching do the swimming for the turtle? I asked. No, they said. But what about that older lady who picked up the turtle when he was already in the water? Did she need to do that? I asked.
"No," one boy said, folding his arms across his chest. "He could have done it."
Why'd she do it, do you think? I asked.
"She was worried about him. She didn't want people like that lady who walked in front of your camera to step on him."
One of the very bright lights saw the metaphor immediately. He said: "We have to come out of shell, too. And we have to swim."
So we got the caring piece out of the way. But there was more to reality than that.
"Miss." One boy said. "Those waves were big."
They sure were.
"Miss." [Clearly, I was missing something.] "He got hit in the head."
"His head was in the mud, Miss. More than once."
Another child: "Yeah. And he had to work hard to get through that mud. You see those tracks?"
But he got there. So will you. You're very much cared for, and you will do it.
With that, the bell and the end of another day with some very together, very sensitive, very good children.