Today was another day spent at the chess board.  We love chess in this classroom and nearly everyone can play a fairly competitive game.  But there are a few for whom chess is a bit of an addiction and much strategy goes into the play.

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I’ve been learning how to better my own strategy with the kids.  Justin has become our chess teacher in the classroom, taking others under his wing and showing them what to do.  I have become one of his pupils.  Asher has also been teaching me certain moves.

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Today, Justin needed someone to play and everyone else was engaged so I said I would play.  It was such a fun game, which I ended up winning.  It was the first time I’d won in the classroom and Justin high-fived me in good humor.  I asked it he wanted to play again and he did.  So off we went.  We traded colors and it was a long and super-heated game.  The other kids gathered around. Asher sat and began to instruct us both and we both were so intent on the game, we couldn’t even hear him.

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It was back and forth, looking like we were both going to win at different times and then bam, I won the second game.  And Justin just started to cry.  Sometimes this teacher gig is so hard.  I immediately went to him, of course feeling terrible.  I hugged him to me and then it all started to come out of me, from who knows where, but for once all the right words seemed to be just on the tip of my tongue.  I told him that in the case of chess, he had been MY teacher and I HIS student.  And that because I was able to win against him, since he is such a smart player (he kept repeating how smart he was as he moved the pieces which was so cute) that I owed it all to him.  I am becoming a good chess player because of his teaching, which makes him a good teacher.  He said, “Really?  Wow.  I didn’t think of that.”  We stayed together for a long time.

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Jackson had my camera and had been documenting our play the entire time and he got all of this in pictures, which just fills my heart to no end.  I never get to see from the outside in. How beautiful is this life we have together in this room, where we can feel all the ways we need to without fear and where heartache can build self confidence.  Thank you Justin for teaching me today, so many more things than how to keep my king from getting captured.

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Chess

I like to play chess.

The pieces they are so small

but big in their own way

And weak but brave

when they play chess.

~Asher Sage Rietberg


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