Reading the Room

What I see in front of me:

My embosser, a gift from a student, who loved my book talks—and my extensive classroom library. She never let me forget that day in class.

You almost have to have seen my Language Arts classroom to understand. The 20-or-so desks for the eighth graders were arranged in a myriad of ways, depending on the day and what we were doing. As I told them, desks have legs for a reason—you can move them. And move them they did, but to be fair, the space was limited, bounded by our books, books on shelves, and in crates, books everywhere!

Students found the rug in the front where we’d conduct “chalk talks” a likely spot for collaboration, the rug flanked by shelves, poetry and memoir. Some of them would try to escape detection behind the wall of double-sided shelves standing on the other side of the room. But I was a roamer by nature, so books didn’t provide that kind of successful escape for long.

On this day, the kids were observing that they could really use some more space, space to spread out when I denied them hall access (seldom, but…hard to monitor the hall and classroom; they had to earn it!). It’s true, they were bounded by books.

“You know,” Jack began, “if you got rid of some of these books…” He cast the bait and waited.

You know, Jack, ” I countered, “I’d rather get rid of some of you than any one of these books! They are my babies.”

I jest, but seriously, eighth graders? There were days…Everyone laughed.

A few months later, Shannon brought me a smallish box that had surprising heft. “Ms. Emerson, I got you the perfect gift,” she said, beaming. “Open it now!”

She grabbed a book (they’re everywhere, remember?), took a gold seal, inserted it inside the round mouth and pressed. What emerged?

“It’ll look like an award-winner,” Shannon pronounced.

My embosser, with seals of gold and blue (our school colors). She was right: the perfect gift.

8 thoughts on “Reading the Room”

  1. Love this whole piece but esp these lines: “You know,” Jack began, “if you got rid of some of these books…” He cast the bait and waited.

    “You know, Jack, ” I countered, “I’d rather get rid of some of you than any one of these books! They are my babies.”

  2. What a perfect gift. I agree that desks are to be moved and not stuck in one place forever, unlike the desks in my elementary which were bolted to the floor. I would much rather have gotten rid of some students rather than any of my books as well.

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