Today the pod was almost empty, with only a first grade class not out gallivanting around on field trips. And there was me, the intervention teacher alone in the pod conference room doggedly typing in titles and genres to make the guided reading library more searchable and check out easier. I stepped out to — what? Stretch? See some humans? Make up an errand that involved walking, not sitting. As I came back in the pod double doors there was a square face, a pudgy angry mask sitting atop a hand with knuckles that made it look like teeth on the mask.
Clearly not a happy camper, and a little friend of mine from intervention, until we had to get more services. I walked over, being extra quiet since the pod was.
“Are you angry?”
I saw a little nod and stooped down close. “Yes, you look pretty mad right now. And are you also hurt?” That face. That angry pain I have seen up close so many times this year. That face she wore into kindergarten two years ago…
Another nod. I stayed quiet a minute. A. didn’t volunteer anything.
“Sometimes when I get really mad, I draw. Then I can think about what to do. Remember when you drew those feelings from scary dreams? Would you like to draw what you are feeling right now?”
This time A. gave me a small vocal yes. I went off to get a blank journal. Returning, I told her she could keep it and use it anytime. And I went back to my clerical task in the windowless room.
A little while later I walked by and she had drawn herself on the cover and was then pressing hard on the pencil marking in two rectangles on a fresh page. I stopped and leaned in. “What’s this?”
“They are desks,” she said with a tone like a detective naming the crime scene.
“I see. You’ve got a good start. You are very brave to face your feelings.”
Time elapsed, although my sense of it this morning wasn’t clear because I had a writing project on my mind for an after school meeting. I was back at the end of the pod, sitting at my desk, which looks out into the open hallway. There were books piled between us, but I saw A.’s eyes and they looked like they were smiling. I walked over.
“Hey, these books blocked my view, so I wasn’t sure, but were you smiling?” She nodded and her smile was easy and big. The page contained all kinds of marks, characters, and details of the event she drew. But I guessed she didn’t want to revisit it.
“That’s so great. Now you are ready to go back to your classroom, then?”