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Archive for October, 2009

Small thankful

I’ve been traveling a lot, and have a terrible sore throat, and am Monday-of-Progress Reports tired.  But, I wanted to say that I am thankful, because today the kids gave me goosebumps again.

We’ve begun reading the scene between Hermia, Lysander, and Helena. Lysander and Hermia first talk about their love, and needing to leave the laws of Athens, and how love has no straight road. (The kids nodded emphatically to that, which made me smile.)  Then Helena comes in and complains that even though all of Athens claims she’s as fair as Hermia, Demetrius can’t see it. Ederick reads Lysander and wishes to _be_ him, Sarah reads Hermia.  We lose our momentum when the word “bosom” comes up, but get back on track easily enough.

The kids are so great.  They were so willing to give the tricky text a try, and listen to my quick explanations and emphasis, and throw in their own ideas.  And ask, “When Shakespeare says ‘fair’ does he mean smart or hot?”

They read it once, struggling, and then read it a second time. I could hear the blank verse coming out, I could hear them gaining confidence.

Also, here is Ederick’s newest pick-up line: “Hey, Fatima. Why don’t you try out to be the girl who likes Lysander?”

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School days

I went from worrying that I wouldn’t have a job at all, to teaching full time and returning to the mad-dash schedule of teaching.  Early to bed, early to rise, extra time given to finding amazing short stories and grading raggedy notebooks full of poems and protestations (“Miss, why did you move my seat today…).

It’s actually the perfect job, although part of me doesn’t want to jinx anything by saying that. 7th grade performing arts!  It’s a long-term subbing position, through this semester, it looks like.  And by that time, I should have all of my certifications up to speed, and hopefully the hiring freeze will be over.  But in the meantime, I’m having the kids do great little freewriting “starters,” read short stories, memorize pieces of “Annabel Lee,” and act out scenes every day.

It’s really hard, the work, the pouring out of all of my energy.  There are still three or so kids I can’t or haven’t yet reached, and their behavior and actions made difficult nuts for me to try and crack each day.

And, the students are so unpredictable.  Remember being 12, at all?  What a crazy time, on the inside, for each of them.  And I can’t figure out, on the fly, from the front of the room or the periphery of their tables, what makes them suddenly cry, stomp away, cry out across the room.  And they are so in the moment, so very literal. If I slip and say, “Anthony, you haven’t written a single thing all hour,” he will rage at the injustice because he has, in fact, written two lines.

I do love grading their notebooks each day, giving them red-inked stars, words of encouragement (“See me after class about how to make your haiku perfect,”) and exhortations to finish assignments they’ve left hanging. Several of them write back to me, questions and notes in the margins.

The very best part of each day, though, is when they’re actually acting out their scenes.  They love it, and it’s easy to keep their attention and behavior on task, because I don’t need to do anything– they are in love with seeing each other perform, and hearing what will happen next.

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