I just realized I forgot to post my Journal 5 entry... Sorry! But it's all for the best because something more compelling happened in class today which I'd rather get everyone's opinions on/explore in more detail.
The sixth graders were almost all wearing orange ribbons in their hair today in honor of a boy at a nearby middle school who's recently been diagnosed with leukemia.
Natalie and Allison were talking and being very silly and playful and Natalie was jokingly forcing her ribbon on Allison who was jokingly refusing it. ”No! Really! Take it! It’s yours,” Natalie said and threw it at Allison. It landed on the floor where I was standing (right next to them.) I picked it up (Natalie, to Allison: ”SEE?? Now you made Miss Emma pick it up!!!!”) and in the span of a split second felt torn about how to react.
In my mind (and heart?) this is what I wanted to say: "Girls, if we’re wearing these ribbons to support a boy who’s feeling very sick, is this really the way we should be treating these ribbons?" But I didn’t say that. Instead I smiled and placed the ribbon on the table and started a new conversation.
I don’t know if I “chickened out” or felt like it wasn’t my place. Maybe on some level I didn’t want to crush their naivety about leukemia. Maybe I felt like my attachment to the ribbon was over-sentimentalized. But I left their table kicking myself for not having spoken up. I wonder if I would have felt more comfortable if if I had spent more time sort of actively “teaching” them rather than “hanging out” with them. I think part of it is that I feel (to a certain degree) like a guest in their classroom rather than an authority figure, a dynamic which, I am sure, in my mind, is exacerbated by the fact that the school is private. Or I wonder if I could have easily, under any circumstances, done the same thing and overlooked the ribbon throwing. Even though this is my third field placement and even though I've spent a lot of time in different classrooms sometimes I still feel like I'm never 100% sure how to approach my role here...