Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Walking and Thinking

Walking after dinner, trying to think of a way to invite one particular class of students into the Wonderful World of Reading and Writing, I really just jiggled my brain and felt myself getting tired, tired and more tired. I have thirty-two kids in a class that likes to (how should I say this?) DO THEIR OWN THING. The sad part is, THEIR OWN THING isn't going to make them better readers and writers. I'll think of something. I'll move them around. I'll give their parents a jingle. I'm SO very thankful this class is in the morning when I still possess a little jazz.

I'll just keep walking along side them. I'll keep smiling and learning more about them.

You know a tree by its fruit, right? A harvest at the end of the year?

Shine a light on the path. Help them find their way . . .

Guide them toward beauty . . .

Hold their hands . . .

Sometimes, spell it out for them . . .

I liked school, but the truth is: I talked a lot. I talked to everyone, so moving me didn't really help. But, school FELT good to me and I don't think school feels good to some of these guys. Can you imagine a day without a nose dip into a good book? They can. Can you imagine a world without fresh, clean, white paper? A world without a slick writing tool? They'd rather text message. I think I'll title the weekend, "Inspirational Teacher Film Festival" and watch Mona Lisa Smile, Freedom Writers, To Sir With Love, Mr. Holland's Opus, and then hunker down to some heavy-duty planning. Do you want to tell me about your favorite teacher?


Gumbo Lily said...

This sounds like a difficult task you have Miss Pom Pom. I feel sorry for the child who didn't grow up with books because it makes reading and writing so hard. I was one of those kids and only when I became an adult with Littles of my own did I decide to read in earnest. I started with children's books, of course, and gradually moved up to some of the classic children's literature.

You asked about a favorite teacher. I can think of one in particular, Mrs. Hauck. She taught me in 4th grade and my favorite part of her class was when she read aloud to us after lunch. I couldn't wait to hear her read with inflection and interest which captivated me and drew me into the story. It took all the pressure off my own poor reading skill.


P.S. I enjoyed the walk and pictures as you "talked" to us along the way.

April said...

I can't think of one particular teacher who was my favorite, I liked many, but I can think of some favorite moments. I wasn't doing very well in math my freshman year and my teacher encouraged me to ask lots of questions and not be shy or embarrassed about them. From then on, I loved math and excelled at it. My music teachers used to let me eat lunch with them and I enjoyed that thoroughly. Not being much of a social butterfly it was either that or eat alone in the cafeteria, the former was a nice option. I'm sure I would have liked your class and you would have been my favorite teacher, though, if I had you. You're wonderful!

All things bright and beautiful... said...

Mrs Jolly was a favourite - her full name was Mrs Granville - Jolly - she wore tailored tweed suits, stilleto heels and carried a huge crocodile skin handbag with a gold clasp. She read the classics aloud to us in beautiful clipped English tones. "Sorry gals I always cry at this bit" and indeed she did into a beautiful white lace hankerchief when we read "A Christmas Carol".
I was not a particularly booky child, I was utterly bewildered by the books and indeed by life but Mrs Jolly made it all that bit more bearable :)

I bet the kids in your class love you Pom Pom as I loved Mrs Jolly.

God bless.


Mrs Yappy Dog said...

I loved to read as a child, I could read a whole nancy drew mystery story in a saturday afternoon and be back at the library before closing! too much technology. My children will read anything that's online but not a book.

Green thumb said...

I'm everyday more amazed by your beautiful writing!
Favourite teachers..mmh, that's really a good question, I've had too many in my school life, I especially loved my Italian teachers (males), they were so funny and special!

The dB family said...

Hello Dear Friend! You sound like you have a big task before you, but I know you can do it! I see your love for life and joy overflowing on your blog and know that your students can't help but be affected by by who you are. I know that maybe not all, but some will learn to love books too! You can do it! With God's help and praying friends, I know you can!

I have two favorite teachers. One was my grade seven teacher. He loved to read aloud to us and always got so excited that his arms would be flying. He wore zany ties and truly enjoyed his students.

My other favorite teacher was my grade ten English teacher. He was balding and used to wear a sweatband around his head because he would get so into reading to us that the sweat would start rolling down his forehead. Funny! Oh, but he instilled the passion of words in me that I remember to this day.

I know you will figure something out for your reluctant students! Love and prayers!


♥ Tina, the quiet homemaker said...

All I can say is that I wish that you had been one of my teachers. I went to a very strict school and we were made to feel worthless and stupid. The best day of my life was when I walked out of the school gates for the last time.

wayside wanderer said...

You have such a great perspective on your students. I love reading your thoughts and find myself encouraged by you in my own small teaching adventures at home and in my writing class.

Praying God gives you an epiphany about this particular class and how to reach their hearts, to fan the flames of curiosity, and to draw them into the great stories that are all around them.

debbie bailey said...

We have to do what we know to be best for our students, because THEY sure don't know what's best!

After reading all of the above comments, one common trait stands out which all their beloved teachers had; a passion for the written word. If we love reading, then that love will be passed along to them.

I say to just be yourself, be passionate, love the little rascals, and it will all fall into place; generally speaking.

There will always be the more difficult child who needs extra help or love, and I'm sure you know how to handle them, Pom Pom.

I had a few favorite teachers. The common thread with them was that they cared about us as individuals and loved what they taught. See, it all comes back to love and passion!

Firefly said...

Hmmmm, Sister Helen Bernard would have to be my favorite. She was smart as a whip and cool (in a good way ;-) too. I remember when I was a junior, she told us we should go see "Un Homme et Une Femme" (at the artsy movie theater on 'the drag' by UT) which I did and immediately fell in love with Bossa Nova and even more in love with all things French. She was also sensitive and positive in her interaction with us -- just as I know you are. And isn't that so very important?!
Hang in there Friend!

Angela said...

Teacher Films - what about
"The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie",
"To Sir with love"
"Educating Rita"

My inspirational teacher was Mrs Gosling, who taught me that everyone can do maths, but they have different pathways through their brain to get to the right answer. The key is helping pupils find their best route.

blessings x

magsmcc said...

Miss Miller is still Head of English at Belfast High. When I was in junior school, she had just arrived, with her Pre-Raphaelite mane of golden tress and her way of reading poetry that made the world stand still. But then she did tweek the ears of boys who weren't listening, and I'm sure their world stood still for very different reasons. When I moved on to O-Level with a different teacher she wrote me a little card. I imagine you as her Stateside version (better without the ear thing perhaps?)...

Aisling said...

One of the best books about a teacher that I've read is "A Smile as Big as the Moon." It would make a very inspirational movie. Have you read it? If not, here is a blurb about it:

I know you will do amazing things with these kids through the years. If nothing else, you are a role model of a creative, vibrant, compassionate human being with a positive outlook. That is no small thing in this world.

Bradley Maston said...

I'm sorry those kids are "doing their own thing" at the expense of what they ought to be doing. I expect you will find the best way to inspire them. I'm glad you are going to have a teacherly film festival. Don't forget to watch stand and deliver and dead poets society (but stop before the end). Love you tons!

Pom Pom said...

Oh, how I loved reading your comments about favorite teachers! Thank you for caring and thinking along with me. Today was better. They wrote "Where I Live" poems and shared. They were noisy, but tuned in. Whew.

GretchenJoanna said...

If anyone can overcome the obstacles in the modern classroom, you would be the one. But the changes that have taken place in society since all of us commenters were in 8th grade are momentous. The best teachers are very discouraged about a situation where the teen who isn't connected 24/7 to his friends feels panicky. How can one possibly get into a good book in that state of mind? One can't. Maybe a necessary first thing is to convince the kids that they need time truly alone.

Left-Handed Housewife said...

1. I second Angela's movie list. I was thinking of "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" just the other day.

2. I also second what GretchenJoanna said.

3. Favorite teacher: Mr. Richard Lee, 6th grade, who put me in a special reading group where Steven Shriner and I got to read real novels. Another favorite teacher: Mr. Raymond Pierce, 8th grade, who pushed me very hard as a writer and made me do the work I was capable of doing. May he rest in peace.

4. I wish I knew what to do with your students to make them readers and writers. Maybe you could teach them how to make books--not write them, but make them--and then they would love their handmade books so much they would want to fill them with amazing words and be authors themselves.


Kerri said...

Do you know this made me a little teary? You have such a beautiful heart and you care so much for your students, it's inspiring. My favourite teacher was Mrs Pangman. She was my 7th grade teacher the year I spent in Michigan. I was so much younger than all the other kids as we start school earlier in New Zealand. All the girls in my class were obsessed with make up and moisturiser and I felt so little and far from home. Every day Mrs Pangman would smile at me and I would just look down because I was too shy to smile back. Still, she smiled at me every day for months and it meant so much to me that she didn't give up. Finally one day I was brave enough to smile back at her. I loved her endlessly and she's still my favourite teacher. Sometimes it looks as though you're not getting through to the children in your class, but you are. Hang in there, you'll be fabulous I just know it!

libbyquilter said...

a beautiful and thoughtful post and so many great comments. i don't think i have anything to add except that i KNOW you are a wonderful teacher and it's only the first days yet . . .

i would be willing to bet they are your favorite class by the end of the first grading period because they will have challenged you in new ways and will make you an even better teacher than you are now.

hang in there. it's friday and your film festival sounds like very good therepy.


Jessica said...

This brought tears to my eyes. Your heart is simply amazing to me. You reminded me of someone that I haven't though about in a very long time..... My favorite teacher, Mrs. Decuir. She was my 8th grade History teacher. Initially, she seemed really stern & mean. I was sure that she was going to be a nightmare...... so I went to the school counselor and asked him to change me from her class. Of course, he didn't & I'm so glad that he didn't. She reached through the darkness and cared for me in such a nurturing way. During this time her son (who was in his early 20's was dying of cancer)..... I'll never forget her kindness & concern for me, even in the midst of her own personal tragedy. She was amazing, like you Pom! I wonder if she knows how much she meant to me.