The breeze comes in through the open window. It mixes the sweet scent of the coming spring with the familiar smells of the classroom: Sharpened pencils. Sweaty shoes. Leftover snacks. Experimental perfumes and body sprays. Yes, this smell takes me right back to sixth grade. I ease into the hard plastic chair, and I write along with them.
The Harry Potter channel blasts from the speakers. We wait for the ads, but we write as wait.
Well, not all of us write. She sharpens her pencil. He stares out the open window. He tries to find inspiration in the ceiling tiles.
I wait, and I write more. When the sharpening ceases, she returns to her seat. Two put pencils to paper. That leaves just one. Wait. One more looks up. Two now.
I can’t wait any longer. I get up to see how everyone is doing, even those who seem hard at work. She’s writing about gymnastics. He is the class fisherman. She is remembering a sunset at the beach. He is writing about the rides at Lakeside.
This is the “Silent Ten.” But what about the “silent” two? With no words on the page, they have no voice in this room.
I can’t wait any longer. I kneel down next to the first of the two. “Tell me what you’re thinking.” His voice fills the space between us and before long fills the space on the page, too.
In the breeze from the playground, we all find our voices. I make sure of it. Even in the Silent Ten.
I’m participating in the Slice of Life Challenge over at Two Writing Teachers. Check it out and look for the Classroom Challenge, too, where kids from all over the country are participating, too!