Saturday, January 24, 2009


As usual, I am working in my classroom on this Saturday morning, trying to get caught up, plan for next week, and generally get my head together. This has been a bit of a hectic week, but I had several examples of what we as teachers always want to see - kids engaged with the material, or at least engaged by or with something.

One day this week we had some visitors to the campus and my administrator brought them in to visit my room. Not always the most risk-free thing to do when I'm teaching seventh grade, but this time it was wonderful. The kids were working in groups, everyone was on-task, and there was a low, purposeful buzz, rather than a roar of random racket. It's always fun to show off your students at their best.

Another class had a bake sale this week and it was not an unqualified success. Because of all the conflict among the kids in the class and the time we had missed already while the last brownies were sold, I threw out my plans and we brainstormed how the next bake sale could be better. The enthusiasm of the kids was good to see, and eventually most of them had stopped throwing blame and were coming up with great ideas.

In my ESL class, a simple activity where the students had to identify linking verbs and action verbs somehow engaged everyone. The kids were yelling back and forth, "AV!" and "LV!" and having earnest (and loud) arguments in their first language about which answer was best. I called it Grammar as a Combat Sport but one of the kids called it Extreme Grammar and I liked that even better. Afterwards we had a good discussion about how at times when we are emotional about or interested in what we are doing, our heart language (in their case not English) comes out of our mouths much more readily than our educational language. One of the students said that when she tells someone in her own language about an event, it feels as though the other person was there, whereas when she speaks in English there's more of a distance. Almost nobody at our school speaks English on the soccer field.

Each of these incidents reminded me how much I love teaching and, especially, how much I love teaching these particular kids, each one of whom is unique and full of potential.

I'm about to go home, since all my lessons for next week are done and my copies are made. I have plenty of grading but I can do that at home. We are having electrical problems at home again so I probably won't be online much for the rest of the weekend and won't have the time to read today's Saturday Review of Books.

Have a good weekend!


Amy @ Experience Imagination said...

Yup. That's the whole "heart language" concept for Bible translation: until God speaks your own language, you can't be sure how close He is to you.

I love the extreme grammar! I agree that it's easier to be emotional in my first language, but I've found it is sometimes quite difficult for me to discuss Spanish grammar in English, simply because I learned Spanish grammar in Spanish and I don't always know the English terms for things, only that one word/tense/suffix looks or sounds better than another.

Anonymous said...

Ruth, you're a good lady. I can't imagine myself loving middle school students. I even had trouble when mine were in middle school.

We missed you at church Sunday. I understand you could visit Jeff's Bible class and know what the sermon was about from his side comments. Hope Susannah is feeling better.