Sunday, January 21, 2007

You Will Always Recover

You start work on persuasive essays, and it’s not that any of this is new, or that you’re experimenting with anything approaching a novel instructional method, or even that this will be anything other than a two-week tooth-pull full of false starts and frustration, but man, it’s nice to teach some grade-level standards. If not product, than grade-level assignments and approach. Breathe it in.

You begin reading The House on Mango Street like you’ve done for three years now, (over which you've spilled copious amounts of virtual ink), but there’s all kinds of new depths because you gave it as a gift to someone who exists in that portion of your life that does not come into contact with teaching and learning, and as you teach the book and talk about voice, you imagine her reading it and there’s all kinds of over-laps. Cisneros’ voice reminds you increasingly of e.e. cummings, and you throw out a poem that reflects some of the action in the book, ("eyes big Love-crumbs") and the kids dig it, maybe because it’s puberty week in sex ed, and maybe because his grammar and punctuation are all kinds of shitty – just like theirs.

There is an activity in your fluency book that consists of twelve sentences to use in practicing oral reading, and over break you went to the Dungeons and Dragons supply store to buy twelve- and four-sided dice, so the kids can roll dice to determine which member of the four-person group reads which sentence. And this is so much better than taking turns in a circle, and you watch them rolling dice that typically determine how much damage one’s hypothetical war hammer dealt to a hypothetical cave troll that is hypothetically blocking your hypothetical adventuring party from reaching the hypothetical magical item that the hypothetical evil Baron is also trying to locate, hypothetically, but which are now (the dice) facilitating decoding skills and the acquisition of fluent reading. And that 15 years ago summer of many nights spent around a long table in a darkened room, consuming far too much Mountain Dew and wishing pretty strenuously you were doing anything else – it has all been redeemed.

A.'s question -- "Do white people have quinceñeras?" -- strikes a discussion of trends that go out of style then reinvent themselves as bad (a redundancy I know) MTV shows, as well as the way seemingly diverse cultures tend to share more in common than we think, on the surface. All of which pivots around the question of did you dance with girls at the various Bar and Bot Mitzvahs you attended in the South Florida of your youth, and whether you want to meet A.'s tia, who is 25, or one of E.'s older sisters, or C.'s tia, who would definitely like you, and how if you ever want to "get with someone" A. ensures you that she'll "hook you up."

At the urging of your Masters professor, the POY comes to speak about leadership, even though he'd probably rather change dirty diapers than attempt to encapusalte his vision into ed-school-speak truism. And so he speaks of the cleave in public schooling, where there are schools on one hand that exist as public examples and reflections of the quality inherent in their community, that are on display as an example of all that is good within neighborhoods and homes. Then there are the other schools that are not reflections of quality and achievement, but must instead become doors that will open onto these ideals. These schools must be doors to this quality and must shape themselves as such, and in so doing, understand that most kids do not come equipped with their own keys, and will need to have these keys shaped and will need to be instructed in the act of key-construction...

And you go away reminded that building doors and creating keys is a good thing, truly one of the best things, and next time you shouldn't be so slow to remember how honored you've always felt to be a part of this, how lucky you are to have an opportunity to do this work, in this place, now.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have goosebumps. Thank you.

4:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yay, you're back to your old self, and that's so inspiring.
And no matter what your future occupation, whether teacher, administrator, teacher educator, or some combination, it may be useful to have this knowledge, that pointing fingers at teachers who feel burnt out is not necessarily terribly effective. Thanks for this entry too!

9:37 PM  
Blogger happychyck said...

Nice post from the COMFORT of your teaching shoes.

Even if it does dredge up memories of long nights of D & D. ;-)

9:19 AM  

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