hold on to your fourth grade self

We start our day with a question. The responses, like the questions range from silly to serious.
I start the process by calling on one student. They answer and then pass it on.

This week’s line up included:
Monday: How’s it going?
Tuesday: Would you rather be a fly on the wall or be able to see through walls?
Wednesday: What did you like in kindergarten that you don’t like now?

Today: What do you like now that you don’t think you will like in high school?

I was surprised to see H’s hand up. Usually he goes last.

“H would you start us off?” I say.


This is when I say a silent prayer
that his internet connection is strong enough,
that the audio settings on his computer are set correctly,
that his mic is working,
that there aren’t weeds being whacked in the garden,
that there aren’t dishes being put away in the kitchen,
that he remembers to unmute himself,
that he remembers what he wanted to say.

And then we hear it him.

“I think I won’t like hugs.”
“I see that all the time. Older kids stop wanting hugs.”
“My sister is only in middle school and she doesn’t want to hug any more. It makes me sad. Even though I probably won’t like them, I”m going to try really hard to keep liking them. Because, they are the best.”

H passes it on.
D: “Sponge Bob.”
E: “How can you not like Sponge Bob! He’s so adorable.”
A: “Sonic, even thought I love Sonic.”
E: “Harry Potter.”
G: “Play. My sister never plays with me any more. So yeah. Play.”
B: “Disney movies.”
F: “Minecraft.”
N: “Pokemon.”
G: “The outside. My sisters have so much to do. They don’t go outside.”
and then
V: “My former self. High schoolers look back on who they were when they were younger and think, ugh cringy. But I like myself.”

These kiddos are in a sweet spot. Particularly the ones with older siblings.
They see themselves and their future selves.
No hugs.
No outside.
No Sponge Bob.
No play.
No liking ourselves.

H has the right idea. Hold on to your fourth grade self.

Day 5, Slice of Life Challenge 2021.
Read more slices here.

16 thoughts on “hold on to your fourth grade self

  1. I feel privileged to eavesdrop at your morning conversation with your kids. I hope these kids will be able to hold on to their fourth grade selves and play and hug for eternity.

  2. Thanks so much for capturing this conversation. It’s wonderful and speaks to my fourth-grade-teacher heart! We often have a morning question as well, and I love the ones you posed about kindergarten and high school selves. I’m totally using one this morning. Don’t be surprised if you see a post inspired by their responses 🙂

  3. I love that inner moment you share before H talks — so much to unpack in that space you created for us as readers, as teachers. You slowed me down and I saw all the “H” I have met this year and I connected to them, to you, and to H. Beautifully crafted – as always.

  4. Fourth grade was my favorite I recall it fondly. I was able to reach out to my fourth grade teacher when I started working at my old elementary school. I don’t think I will ever forget her. I don’t think your students will forget you either. Way to go with these conversations. They sound simply amazing. I’m thinking your students will also be back after 20 years.

  5. I love this whole slice but I especially like the part just before H speaks where you list of the things that need to happen or not happen so he is heard in the virtual world. Your detailed list captures this perfectly!

  6. Oh, oh. Oh! I am soooo glad that I clicked on This post. You captured such real and true emotion for all ages really. I am grateful that some things like hugs and Spongebob do come back around eventually. But that is a great set of questions and a charming group of kids.

  7. I just shared this with a few teachers because I love the questions so much. Please send me more! I also love that you’ve captured the responses. Some are forgettable, and some are so meaningful. I feel like I say this a lot to you… picture book? Maybe even a class picture book or a poem. It could be beautiful.

  8. I connected to so much of this slice. Their answers, their thinking beyond at times. I couldn’t help but feel like I was holding my breath with you for that moment before H started talking. It is that moment where you feel like things might go right, but it could still go wrong and there’s nothing anyone can do. I”m so glad H was able to share without an issue.

  9. Oh my gosh–this is so beautiful! I loved your writing in the beginning of the piece, where you describe all the things that could go wrong, but then I loved the piece even more, when you shared what H said. And then when you shared all the other responses–those cracked my heart open even more. That last line is golden.

  10. Oh, yes, that moment, when you are hoping that conditions hold for them to bring out that thought! I held my breath right then too. Thanks for sharing that — it’s lovely to see how universal those 4th grade thoughts are, too.

  11. What a special moment to capture! I wonder if they would want to write a letter to that high school self to remind them of the innocence and imagination of being a fourth grader.

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