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sempre ajudar o próximo

This morning, right as students were entering the classroom, a wave of coffee, almond milk, and stevia crashed right at the edge of my writing curriculum book, splashed a stack of students’ narratives, began to pool beneath my pen jars and dripped onto the floor. One student rushed to grab paper towels and another started picking up papers I had tossed on the floor to avoid getting wet. I was disappointed about half of my coffee going to waste, and I could have felt frustrated by so few friends who chose to pitch in, but I made an intentional choice to feel grateful that two stepped up as helpers.

This afternoon, our community meeting was all about asking for help. What can it feel like to ask for help? When might we need to ask for help? Who can we turn to for help? One student in my class was particularly eager to participate. I was overjoyed by his enthusiasm and willingness to take a risk in English– his second language. As we wrapped up our meeting, children spread out all around the classroom for independent reading time. That one student, however, chose to connect with me first.

“Can I use translate please?” he asked. He began pointing to the chart we had made, gesturing a connection that he was trying to make. I could see that he had a big idea to share and longed to share it with me in Portuguese. I handed him a device to share his thinking. He typed, “sempre ajudar o próximo” and handed the device back to me. “My mom says this,” he declared with a smile. I smiled back as I glanced at the English translation:

“always help the next”

“Ah, so when someone helps you, you can pass it on. I love this lesson. Thank you for sharing!” With joy in our hearts, he scurried off to start his own independent reading. I stood there a moment longer to remember how he was one of the helpers who came to my rescue when my iced coffee spilled just a few hours before. He is carrying an important life lesson with him wherever he goes. He is the kind of person we need more of in this world.

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Published by Melissa Quimby

Melissa is a 4th grade teacher in Natick, Massachusetts. She can often be found with an iced coffee and middle grade novel in hand! Connect with her on Twitter & Instagram - @QUIMBYnotRamona.

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