I’m watching Izzy clean out her school bag. I actually had to move far enough away so that I wouldn’t start scooping up papers, smoothing them out and reorganizing her folders. Izzy’s plan for organizing her homework works 68% of the time according to her last report card. Her method of organization is three folders in a big binder. One folder is called, ‘Stuff.” The next folder is called, ‘Important Stuff.” The final folder is labeled ‘Paper.’ I would probably try organizing things by subject, but Izzy likes her system.
She’s done tidying her schoolbag. After putting it near the front door, she smiled and told me how happy she feels to have her bag all cleaned out. Seventh grade has been interesting so far. There’s more writing, more homework and the kids are getting grades for the first time. It was disappointing for Izzy to realize she didn’t get an A from her main teacher because she hadn’t handed in all of her homework. Izzy completed all of the homework assignments, but somehow she misplaced 32% of them.
In my work at the teen center, I ran into these kids all the time. They did their homework. I helped them with it. I’d watch them put it in their backpacks. Somehow it disappeared after that, never to be seen again. It’s a mysterious phenomenon.
I watch Izzy type up her essays. Her beautiful, competent hands seem more complete with chipped black nail polish. They hover over the keyboard, going back and forth smoothing out sentences, finding the correct spelling. Izzy’s rhythm is a confident one. But the question begs asking, ‘Where have those missing assignments gone? How is it you didn’t have them to hand in?’
I think the cleaned out folders and schoolbag are a good start. Izzy took the initiative to complete these tasks. Under orders, she wouldn’t have smiled at the end of a job well done. And I wouldn’t have such a sweet moment to record. Seventh grade has been interesting so far largely because Izzy’s motivation has increased. I can almost sit and watch her growing into her competent and caring adult self.