The student stands in front of his classmates, cradling the wooden blocks that he loves to play with. His deep, thoughtful eyes stare at the many boys and girls in his class. With his lips trembling, he cannot get any words out. He stands and says nothing. Words won’t come to him. He has so much to show and tell about his beloved blocks. He desperately wants to share about the many things he designs with them. But he just stands, staring at the children.
One of the students raises his hand and asks, “What do you do with those blocks?”
Cradling the blocks as if they were some protective shield from the others, the boy says nothing. He wants to speak, to share what he designs with the blocks, he longs to talk about all the amazing things he can build with them. But his words fail. The other children soon begin giggling and the teacher asks him to sit down. Silently, delicately carrying his precious blocks the boy sits down and as soon as he does, he feels his eyes well up. He wanted to tell his class about his blocks, about the towers and bridges he designs and about how much fun it is to play with them. Not wanting anyone to see his teary eyes he gently spreads the blocks on top of his desk and lays his head amongst them.
At home, the boy spends some time stacking his blocks, the event from the classroom still vivid in his mind. His heart wishes he could go back and that he could stand in front of his classmates again, but this time he would have the words to communicate his thoughts. He imagines himself like the President, delivering a great speech and the students so excited that their hands fly to ask questions. He even envisions his teacher becoming interested in his blocks.
In a burst of inspiration, he begins to write. He writes about how he once stacked his blocks so high that they were nearly his height, he writes about how he made a pretend bridge once and that his father nearly tripped over it. He writes about how he created an airport that nearly covered the entire kitchen floor. He writes and writes. The next day, the boy folds the sheet of paper into a small square that he shoves into his pocket. He goes to school with his hand constantly fingering the folded paper; wondering who he could give it to or if he might read it to the teacher. As the day passes and reading gives way to math, the boy keeps touching his sheet of paper, not sure of when to bring it out or even if he will.
You know this student. You know him as the child who only smiles back when you greet him in the hallways. You know him as the child who barely says a word and hesitates to look you in the eyes. He is a shy, quiet, almost invisible student. He is the student who needs to be heard. He needs to let the world know what he thinks, what he feels, what he wonders, what he aspires to be. And he is sitting in your classroom.