The Invitation

I believe that at unexpected times, an invitation for something very special comes our way. However, we can fail to see the unveiling if we are not careful. This is especially true for us busy teachers rushing around our classrooms.   

Created by one of my literacy students I will call M.

 

Recently, I received an invitation from one of my literacy students. This young woman is especially precious to me. She began coming to my class towards the end of last year barely able to read. A year later, she is reading, smiling, and creating.   

Last friday, her and I made a Mother’s Day card intended to go to someone who meant something to her. I knew she was living in a foster home but I still wanted her to think about thanking a person who had given to her in some way.   

Created together by M. (student's identity concealed) and Mrs. Luna

 

 After admiring the card, she slowly handed it back to me while whispering, “I don’t have anyone to give this to. My mother abandoned me.” 

Although her words saddened me, I kept my composure and replied, “Isn’t there someone who you feel has cared for you?”   

“No.” Tears streamed down her cheeks.   

I told her “There are mothers by nature and mothers by adoption, but there are also Mothers of the Heart. I will be your Mother of the Heart. I will check on you next year when you are in eight grade. I will stay in touch with you in high school and beyond.”   

Mothers of the Heart

 

At those words, she fell against me sobbing. After calming, she asked if I would take the card for Mother’s Day.   

The theme of music she chose especially struck me. I instinctively knew another invitation presented as well. It was time to pick up my guitar and play once again.  

   

I asked her to write a note on the tiny invitation she crafted to go into the card pocket. Her eyes welled up with tears as she shook her head up and down.   

"Hear my song and hear my heart!"

 

The next day she brought me this card with her message written:   

   

Last year another invitation came. A student found this message hidden in one of our library books. The unknown writer was desperately trying to find someone to hear him or her.   

A student's desperate cry!

 

Some of the darkened words are especially heart-breaking: “I want people to see me.” I vividly remember how reading this cry for help was a turning point in my teaching career. I determined to slow down and listen more…to see my students.   

Today more invitations came pouring in, “Mrs. Luna, can we use your computers for our reports? Can you teach me how to sculpt Abraham Lincoln? I need help with a PowerPoint project?” Eager faces pressed in as I opened the classroom door.    

Invitations continued throughout the day. There was the conversation with a colleague over her writing ambitions. The chance meeting of my son’s friend at the gym whose eyes sparkled as he shared about his college plans. I also ran into an old friend who updated me about her marriage and children. All were opportunities to stop, listen, and encourage.  

Yes, I believe that at unexpected times, an invitation for something very special comes our way.  

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About JoDee Luna

“I’m lost in a love affair with portrait painting!” JoDee Luna confesses. This author, artist, and educator describes herself as a creative eclectic due to her diverse history, multiple talents, and various career pursuits. She enjoys a host of creative expressions: mixed media, mask making, floral designing, photography, sculpture, and gardening. JoDee believes the creative process infuses her with the courage to try on new artistic identities, take inspired risks, and explore imaginative ideas. She seeks to share her insights with others through her book, Refrain from the Identical: Insight and Inspiration for Creative Eclectics and website by the same name, http://refrainfromtheidentical.com. Both provide helpful tips and inspiration for artistic multi-taskers, those who enjoy various forms of artistic expression.
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7 Responses to The Invitation

  1. Herding Cats says:

    I love this post. Sometimes our students open up in ways that are so brave. It is those moments that make me want to continue teaching.

  2. slamdunk says:

    Thanks for sharing your joyful situation. Those moments must make all the frustrations and politics that come with the job worthwhile.

    • JoDee Luna says:

      I agree with you. If I didn’t focus on the redeeming moments, I would become weary of heart. I keep telling myself that there were significant teachers who greatly influenced me when I was in middle school.

  3. izziedarling says:

    Oh my, this is so beautiful and heart-wrenching. My eldest is finishing her first year as an elementary school teacher – she’s an early intervention reading specialist(?). She is amazing in the classroom … hope she turns out just like you!:)

    • JoDee Luna says:

      Well put and thank you for the encouragement! I am so excited to hear about your daughter’s work as an early intervention reading specialist. What grade levels does she service? I began as a fifth grade teacher; however, the number of illiterate students making it into my classes unable to read deeply troubled me. Has she ever heard of the book, “Thank you Mr. Falkner?” This is a children’s book written by Patricia Polacco. I don’t want to ruin the story but that book was a turning point in my career decision to teach literacy. I also have an educational technology site for my students and the teachers I train. There is a fabulous link from a school in England called Woodland Hills School. I think your daughter would enjoy that site and she can access it through mine, http://www.jodeelunainnovations.com.

  4. izziedarling says:

    I am going to give her all this great info and a link to you. She is in a frenzy right now to end school; she’s leaving the country two days after for a month or so. . She taught 3rd grade this year – a class with gifted, regular, and high-functioning autistic – quite a challenge for a first year teacher. She is moving to 1st or Pre-K next year – she does/is/has PPDP (or some form of initials) specialty. She tutors students with dyslexia on the side. Hope this makes sense. Thank you for all info. 🙂

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