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I got in the middle of a situation this morning that involved a tiny and hooded fifth grade girl. Her proper name was Arianna, but I took to calling her Vavoom five years ago when I first heard her voice. She reminded me of an old-time cartoon character – Vavoom – who could blow holes through mountains with one yell. My […]

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If a teacher gives even the slightest signal that it’s time to go outside, kids hop up and bolt for the door. That’s true most of the time. So, this morning, when I got a distress call from Ms. Weathersby telling me that Tarik “is being difficult again. He doesn’t want to go out to […]

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I stood in my school’s upstairs window, tracking the shifts in a slow moving storm. Clouds dark and heavy had pummeled us that morning. Now came a slight pause. I estimated thirty minutes before another downpour. Enough time to get the kids outside for recess? I thought so. I hopped down the steps, made the ‘outside […]

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A first grader named Leonard Taylor caught my eye this morning not so much because of how he moved, but because he did not move at all. That’s odd, I thought. Leonard never stops moving. Instead, he sat still on his slide-top lookout, bold in his red shirt and big Ben Davis trousers, and motionless. I observed him for […]

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A climbing structure sits anchored to the north corner of my school’s playground. Four thick cords rise from asphalt and come together in a crow’s nest twenty feet high. A child with strong hands can scramble up to claim that perch, and from there, she can see west to the shoreline and beyond. Once a child declared to […]

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Matthew, a fast sneakered ten-year old, beat me to the playground this morning. Better to say he bolted across the blacktop. I didn’t try to keep up. He jumped on the monkey bars, and grasped the high bar with his left hand. With blond hair, wiry frame wriggling in a Captain America t-shirt, and near-shredded […]

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A sustained barrage of protests came from a pack of first graders who had crammed to one end of their lunch table to bend my ear. I knew that their teacher, Ms. Coolidge, had put a cork in their discourse since August. Now, they had had it. Today was reckoning day and they would have audience […]

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On the first day of winter, I remember seeing a small-boned child with a mop of brown-hair. He sat on a broken concrete stoop, cradling head in hands and staring out at a pack of bright-jacketed children dashing in dragon lines up the slide and back down. Tumbling balls of primary colors. This boy made […]

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On a Monday morning a few weeks ago, I got a nudge from a short, stout fourth grader named Alejandro. He liked to stand next to me on the playground and give me advice. On that morning, he directed my attention to some older girls who were just then arriving: “Ooo, heads up, Principal. Here […]

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Pretending  creates a dividing line – real as a rock on one side, paired with somewhat squishier realities on the other. I used to think I knew where to draw that line, but I used to think a lot of things. Today during morning recess, my thoughts got a shove from a third grade boy […]

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