In this year's study of A Wrinkle in Time, I've decided to really focus on characterization. I love all the characters in this fantastic book, but my favorite character is definitely Meg Murry. I love how awkward and unsure of herself she is because I feel like so many of my seventh graders can relate to her. Meg sees herself as a "biological mistake," but without her perceived weaknesses, she would never be able to find her strength and save the day at the end of the book.
Before having students analyze the characters in the book this week, I asked them to analyze themselves. I told them not to give me the first answer that came to mind or the answer that they thought I wanted to hear. I reminded them that we don't just read books for the sake of reading; we read books to get to know ourselves better and to make us better, more informed human beings. I was amazed at how many of my students really listened and took what I said to heart. Most of my students throughout the day sat and really, truly thought about their personal traits. It was so interesting to me how many of my students stared blankly at their papers, struggling to decide on a personal trait, maybe even a personal "weakness" that could make them stronger.
Here are some of my favorite answers...
Everyone knows that I'm a shy, isolated person. But sometimes I can use it to my advantage. No, the shyness doesn't give me strength, but choosing to isolate myself does. It allows me to think about the good and bad things that have happened each day and what I could have done or said. That helps me with tomorrow because I will push myself into being a better person tomorrow.
I think one special trait that has helped me in life is that I'm weird. A good weird. I'm like a mix of every personality balled up into one human. I'm sporty; I'm outgoing, but I'm also shy. I like to look nice, but not too fancy. I have many friends, but not enough to make me "popular." It has given me strength because it allows me to be friends with all kinds of people, and it's easy to work with many people. I use this quality every day.
To me, the ability to be imaginative is a very important part of my personality because my imagination has a very big effect on how I go about life. My imagination allows me to be open-minded to new ideas in life, but does not affect my stubbornness in other things like my loyalty to my friends. Imagination is also what fuels my love for writing, art, reading, and music, among other things. But above all these things, imagination is what fuels my ability to believe and to add life to my stories.
One special trait that has helped me through life is that I don't care what people say I can't do. It has given me strength because even though people say I can't do something, it just makes me want to do that thing even more. I use this trait everyday and always. Our differences make us stronger because we are unique in our own way.
The one thing about me that makes me unique is my creativeness. The inside of my head is an entire city of things and characters. Everyday my creativeness and imagination will forge a new thought from the fires of my spinal cord, and the forge masters of my brain. Some days, I brings them to life, whether on paper, or by Legos and video games. My creativity is my best friend and my only escape.
What I loved the most about this assignment was that I feel like I rediscovered some of my students. As we muddle through "testing season" at school, it's easy to feel overloaded with clerical tasks and test prep and altered daily schedules. This assignment was like a breath of fresh air. It was so delightful to see my students open this door into their personalities for me. Their differences definitely make them stronger, and knowing what they value in themselves encourages me to be a stronger teacher, the kind of teacher that values their individuality and fosters their strengths everyday.