Last week, we asked questions...all kinds of questions. We've been collecting Snapple caps this year; and finally we had a chance to use them. Every student grabbed a cap, read the fact on the inside, and brainstormed a list of questions. Then we partnered with our shoulder buddies, swapped caps, and asked more questions. We declared our class a "No Answer Zone" for the day and simply enjoyed asking questions that led to more questions and better questions and more intriguing questions.
We were swallowing questions whole and chewing them up and rolling them around in our heads like marbles in a maze; and then we were laughing about some of our questions and honoring some questions with total silence...awed by the power of the question itself. We felt free...not pressured to answer, just prompted to wonder.
Then, someone read Snapple "Real Fact, #98."
"When the moon is directly overhead, you weigh slightly less."
Someone asked, "How can that be true?"
Someone else said, "Can you feel the difference?"
And then, a hand raised, "Can I answer?" he said, hesitantly.
He is moving this weekend...back to Chicago. He's only been at our school a couple of weeks, so bright, so friendly. He has not been with us long enough for us to get to know him, just long enough for us to welcome him. At home, he speaks Spanish; at school, English. In Chicago, he says they have family and friends. They came here, he said, to find work.
"But it was worse...for work, I mean," he had explained to me earlier in the day when the guidance office called to tell me he was withdrawing. "We have to go back...for work."
"I understand," I told him.
Now, with all eyes on him, in a No Answer Zone, he waits to share what he knows.
"Of course!" I said. "Answer. Please answer!"
"It's gravity...it's all about gravity," he said. His eyes were shining. "When you are standing exactly under the moon, it lifts you...ummm," he searched for the word he was looking for. "It lifts you...slightly."
That night, I walked outside and down the street to the corner. I looked up. The moon was directly overhead. I lifted my heels a little. I lifted my arms a little. I hoped the neighbors were not watching. I stood there, staring at the moon for a long time.
I thought about my new student...moving back to Chicago after such a short time with us. I thought what a heavy burden he carries...the only one in his family who speaks English, moving often, trying hard at every school, reaching out, trying to understand, trying to be understood, listening, sharing, making friends, leaving them.
I thought about him, standing directly under the moon...back home, where his teachers know him, where he is near friends and family again.
I felt lighter, slightly lighter.