In my first year of teaching, I was hired as the last teacher to complete the fifth grade team at a brand new school. My classroom happened to be next to a teacher who was transferred from the middle school back to the elementary school. In that first year, I learned a great deal from Kyle.
One day, in that first year, Kyle received a handwritten letter from a parent. The note, three pages in length, detailed the past 72 hours, how a boy had completed his homework, but lost it somewhere in the house transferring it to his book bag to hand in when he returned to school on Monday.
According to the letter, a great search ensued throughout the house, parents and siblings involved, couch cushions overturned, piles of papers examined, every nook and cranny covered and yet no sign of the completed homework assignment.
I couldn’t understand why Kyle was telling this story, then he flipped over the third sheet of paper to reveal an addendum which changed the whole story:
PS We found it.
It baffled us. Why send in the three page letter even after the homework assignment was found? It seemed like a lot of effort to just hand in the homework anyway. Wouldn’t it have been easier at that point to just discard the letter and explanation?
It wasn’t until I was later reading The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho that I realized why the letter had to be turned in with the homework assignment.
A quote from the book resonated with me:
It wasn’t about the homework assignment being handed in, it was more about the process and the journey that the family had undergone in searching for the homework. The whole family chipped in to help their son and brother. Maybe there was a lesson learned about responsibility and organization through the search process.
Initially, I though the addendum nullified the three page letter. However, I was wrong. The story of the search for the homework assignment had to be told. The letter detailed the process that the family had taken in order to find the homework. For the family, it was the journey.
PS We found it was a culmination.
Don’t forget the process.
Don’t forget the journey.
Most importantly, don’t forget to place your homework properly in your bookbag when finished.