Thursday, March 2, 2017

Magic Mirror

I pulled out my magic mirror the other day. Thrice. Once for Blobfish Lover and once each for two boys who forgot how to behave. We looked into it for a while. I did the talking and they listened. 

My magic mirror only get pulled out on special occasions. Occasions like yesterday when Tania had given me 30 dollars after complaining 6 times in a row and then I remembered I don't think she likes herself. That however is not today's story. The story today is of my magic mirror.

My mom gave me the magic mirror this last summer before school started. It's my first year of teaching and she knew I'd need help. I wasn't planning on showing it to all of my students. I was planning on showing it to the ones that needed a magic mirror. 

At first I only showed it to a couple of my students and its magic seemed to work. 

And then snack happened on a Tuesday or Thursday because that's the day we have our snack and they gave us red and green apples. You know, the kind that remind you of the fairytale and so instead of my regular read aloud (Harry Potter) I picked up my collection of Grimms' fairytales with the true story of Snow white. 

In the true story of Snow White the wicked stepmother has the magic mirror she looks into and it always tells her the truth. To my students I found myself saying, "Did you know I have a magic mirror? I have a magic mirror it tells the truth. It tells you--it shows you who you really are."

My students are 4th graders. by the time you're in fourth grade you're starting to figure out there's no such thing as magic especially when you come from their homes. They knew and I know they know there is no such thing as magic but I showed them my magic mirror anyway. It's small enough to hold in your hands and it has a fancy cracked paint old frame. 

They each took a turn looking in it and then I put it away.

Today I got it out again. 

Blobfish Lover needed a reminder of who she was and that she could listen to her teacher and then understand how to do fractions. I'm not sure how well it worked, but she said she tried harder to understand fractions when the sub was there for math.

The two boys who needed to look into it are only in my class for small groups. For some reason (possibly that I was filming that lesson for EdTPA) they could not listen, pay attention, or follow directions. They both got their markers and whiteboards taken away and couldn't really participate in the rest of the lesson.

By the time small groups were over they had earned the markers and whiteboards back but I knew I needed to do something if I wanted them to be better next time we do small groups.

So I showed them the mirror.

"Did you know I have a magic mirror?" I asked them. They looked at me quizzically.

"Yeah? It's that," N pointed to my closet, "hanging up." He's loquacious. The other boy agreed. They'd both seen it before.

"Oh, no," I said. Mine isn't hanging up. That was from the teacher who had my classroom last year. I pulled it out and showed it to them. 

"This mirror shows you who you really are," I told them. "What do you see?" They looked for a moment.

"Do you know what I see?" I told them individually. "I see a little boy who is handsome on the inside as well as on the outside. I see a boy with ears so he can listen. I see two eyes that can read instructions and pay attention. I see a mouth that speaks only kind things. Mr. N," or Mr. L, depending on the student I was talking to, "Can you be that person? Can you be the person who listens and who is good?" They both nodded. They both said yes. They both went back to class.

Two days ago we had small groups again. In the middle of their partner reading I paused to pay attention to them. They were reading aloud, but quietly, like I'd asked. When they had arrived for small groups they sat down quickly. They pulled out their reading tools (3-prong folder with page protector) and immediately began reading the limerick we've been using to practice fluency.

I smiled to myself.

Did the magic work? Are you hoping the magic works?

Of course it worked. Magic always works.


  1. Wow, I really liked how you did that. You appealed to their true nature and gave them the opportunity to be real, valuable people. Thanks for sharing this, it inspires me to look for that in the people around me!