Last year my son built a birdhouse for me and hung it up right out side my kitchen window. I’ve been waiting for months for a bird couple to decide to call it home and finally my wait has come to an end. I have the most hard-working sparrow couple making renovations right now. Over the last few days, I’ve watched them bring in all kinds of bits and pieces – dried grass, bits of fluff from the dryer and even what looks like plastic Easter grass.
This morning I watched as the male tried to enter the tiny hole with a GIANT twig. He tried so many ways to get that twig into the hole. I was mesmerized as I watched him coming up with options. His wife (I’m assuming his wife, but perhaps I shouldn’t jump to conclusions) would poke her head out every so often and cheep out her words of encouragement. He kept trying. Eventually he was successful. I watch him bash the twig against the fence, breaking into pieces. He flew each one up and into their little home. His wife, partner, housemate, flew back and forth helping with the task.
Like always, I started thinking about how this encounter transfers to our writers. I remember seventh graders wanting to write about their entire week-long vacation instead of the most memorable parts. Sometimes I had to work really hard to convince them to whittle down their great big ideas into smaller, more manageable chunks. I bet you’ve done the same. But I didn’t leave them to their own devices – I checked back on them. Often. I gave them encouragement and feedback. I let them figure stuff out because when we figure it out, we own it. And when they declared they were finished – we cheered together and shared their masterpieces.