From the Depths of 5 Dozen Word Study Quizzes

I emerge. I think just this week it's hitting me what has happened. I spent 5 years working towards a degree I believed in. I spent 2 semesters figuring some stuff out, finding out what it's like to have 25 sets of eyes fixed upon you in anticipation or in boredom or in fascination or in apathy or in desperation or in admiration. And now I'm it. There's no one in the back of the room to tell me when I've forgotten to move away, not towards a student when I call on them. No one to tell me that my timing could have been better but boy were they engaged. No one to say that I need not micromanage quite so much (hi! are you reading? dinner was swell!). No one to tell me that the kids putting their trust in me day by day. And I'm steering and we're rolling right along and the path is littered here and there with confusions and perhaps the occasional inconsistency, but nonetheless we are plunging forward together into the quasi-unknown.

Here are some highlights from the trip so far:

1. Half day. A lesson dedicated to thinking about our attitudes about poetry, on not taking poetry too seriously. Some hilarious dramatic interpretations of Billy Collins' Introduction to Poetry. A student with classified with Emotional Disturbances (o the titles) smiling ear to ear and volunteering his pair to go first reading their poem from Poems for Two Voices. And what a beautiful reading they did! He's withdrawn in his other classes thus far, and sometimes he's guarded in my class, too. But, slowly, each class, he decides to put his hand up, to speak, to contribute. His main issue, meaning the main manifestation I see of his classification, it seems, is he just isn't comfortable with being asked to contribute or being singled out or called on when he isn't prepared to be. And you know what? I'm ok with that. Plenty of students feel that way. What matters to me is that I see him watching and listening, I see him taking things in, I see him doing his work, writing when he should be writing and reading when it's time, I see him enjoying himself. And for what more could I ask?

2. A non-reader. A self-identified non-reader like any self-identified non-reader I've ever met. Resistant to the bone. Resource room for math, gen. ed. for Language Arts. Reading. A book. He's reading a book. He's reading a book. A book by Walter Dean Myers about soldiers in Iraq--see, he's a military camp kid and it basically defines his being. A book I suggested at what they referred to as a Book Fair--a book he took from my hands and immediately sat down with to the chagrin of his buddies, who were now looking like boats without sails. Or sails without wind. One or the other. He sat and he looked and he was hooked. He put it on hold, hoping they wouldn't sell it to anyone else, as he hadn't brought any money today--any why would he have thought to? But come Friday, he remembered his money (after we wrote it in his planner Thursday, of course). He bought his book (or I would have bought it for the room). He rushed to show me periods before our class, and to return the other W.D.M. book, Monster, that he had been "reading." One of his cronies proclaimed that the world must be coming to an end. Indeed! A certain world is coming to an end for this kid. And a new one is starting. He told me he had read it at the end of each period so far, but just didn't have enough time. And were we going to read our independent reading books today? Well, we weren't, but now, of course we were. And we did.

Oh, so I guess go ahead and consider the Collins poem my lame excuse for a Poetry Friday post. I need to start remembering! I just don't want to get into the habit of posting at school.


Mrs. V said...

I loved this post! It is always exciting to hear about successes in school. Last year one of my biggest non-readers read Monster last year. He picked it up and flew through it.

I also bought a couple copies of Poems for Two Voices. Have you seen Joyful Noise: Poems for Four Voices (http://www.amazon.com/Big-Talk-Poems-Four-Voices/dp/0763638056/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1222530018&sr=1-1)? It is by the same author. I got one copy through Scholastic last year. Once I saw it, I thought it would be so much fun that I bought 8 more copies. My thought was that I could introduce the book to a small group of students. They could work in 2 groups to get their "voice" down. Eventually I want to have 2 groups of 4 to come together and have partners read each voice together. I didn't buy as many copies of Poems for Two Voices. I thought that the four voices poems were perfect for my 6th graders because of the large text, color coding and pictures. I want to introduce Joyful Noise next week and I will post on how it goes. I think they are going to love it though!

enc said...

You don't need anyone to tell you what to do anymore. You're DOING it.

You've found your payoffs. I felt really emotional reading this post. I'm so glad you're reaching students, and that you're feeling the joy of having reached them.

Anonymous said...

posting at school is an art -- compose in your head on the way to work type and hit publish first 15 min of planning period. I've only done it twice but there are times you need to get it out !!! Kids are getting a good one in you

teach people not books said...

v-four voices? four voices! sounds awesome. i can't wait to check it out. they were definitely up for the challenge, and i can't imagine how much more interesting a poem would sound with two more voices. i can't wait to hear how it goes!

enc-i'm trying hard to celebrate the small victories. i hope i never stop remember to! and i hope and trust that i am reaching them. i know i can't win them all, but i'll be happy with winning some.

r/m-i guess my main worry about posting in school is in the event that i ever have anything bad to say about something happening there. i try to keep it anon but who knows what could happen? you're right, though. there are times that need to be reflected upon in writing, and i watch them pass by without composing my thoughts.

Mary Lee said...

From the edge of the cliff named 2 Dozen Science Tests: great post. I so wish I would have thought to capture moments like this from the very first months of my very first year of teaching. May your long and successful career be filled with many more like these!

teach people not books said...

hi mary lee!

thanks for the kind wishes. hope the science test grading goes. . . fast. i have interims to report tomorrow :\

i'd better quit procrastinating and get back to grading. . .