Beauty in the day: so, our 5th graders are working to qualify for “Self Manager” status. Many already have, and I was working on special custom badges attached to lanyards for each of them.
One 5th grade boy was sent to the workroom by his teacher to sharpen a handful of pencils, which he did, quite handily. We chatted about the lanyards while he did his chore and I continued with mine as well. He was preparing to leave, and I suggested he wait, while I finished he last of the lanyards, so he could deliver them to his teacher.
I instantly saw that this presented him with a predicament. One the one hand, the beautiful lanyards (which included his OWN personalized edition, complete with picture) would surely please his teacher and fellow students, and would DEFINITELY please himself. On the other hand, he was sent on a pencil-sharpening mission, and his well-earned status of Self Manager was quite fresh, and he was loathe to taint it in any way.
He said nothing, but smiled nervously at me, and I saw that he was delicately walking a balance beam between respecting his teacher’s instruction, and respecting mine. He seemed to be swaying ever so slightly under the weight of this while he waited for me to finish. I thought I detected tiny beads of perspiration forming on his forehead, and he smiled at me with a pinched smile. His eyes darted back and forth, and then he would make eye contact with me and smile again, shyly.
After what surely seemed like an hour (but what was actually closer to 4 minutes), I was finished, and handed the lanyards to him, which he clutched like a trophy. As he left the workroom I called to remind him not to forget his pencils. I got an especially fun look from him for that.
His teacher reported that he came into the classroom and turned over the lanyards. Then he told her, “I have to be honest – I finished sharpening the pencils quite a bit earlier….”