Flash Fiction Meets Wallowa High School
This week I started at Wallowa High School and Wallowa Elementary School, working with honors English 11th/12th graders one hour, and 6th graders the next hour. It’s my final week as Wallowa County WIR, and I have 4 continuous days of flash fiction writing with these students, rather than 4 days spaced out over two weeks.
I missed Monday because I was, um, running on chicken broth. That narrows it down to 3 days but these kids are fired up, so I think we can pull it off.
Today, as my body muscles ached and my stomach cramped, I put on my best face and went into two new classrooms and, well, nailed it. After the high school class, the teacher gave me a thumb’s up. Students were swapping stories with each other (drafts mind you, from hot off the press writing prompts) on their way out the door. “It’s flash fiction,” one student said. “You can read it during passing time!”
[Note to self: I think this is what being in your 30’s must feel like. Finally the variety of skills you’ve worked for your entire adult life come to fruition and there are certain things you can just do, without fail, and do well.]
The sixth graders were rapt with attention. All totaled, they probably wrote for more than 30 minutes, and regretted when our time ran out. One boy’s focus was particularly enchanting to me as I watched him work:
Later, he pulled me aside. “Did you know that at home I’m writing a book?” he asked, grinning from ear to ear.
“Is it a chapter book?” I asked him.
He nodded. “It’s fantasy.”
Of course, my job is easy. I get to be the new teacher, the fresh face, the “fun” one. It’s the teachers who show up every day, year after year, who deserve the real honor and confidence of their students. The high school teacher whose classroom I am in right now is THE English teacher for 7th-12th grade. “That means if they don’t get it from me,” she confided, “they’re not going to get it at all.” Then she added, “It’s a lot of pressure. But I love rural teaching. I see my students’ parents at Safeway. I’ve known these seniors since they were twelve-years-old. That’s satisfying.”
Tomorrow, here’s hoping I’ll have more energy to explore downtown Wallowa and look into its history a little. (Oh, and thanks to Fishtrap for reimbursing my gas, as always.) For now, here’s downtown: