Wednesday, May 24, 2006

ON TEACHING: "A Home Run Day"

When you’re sitting outside in a blossoming garden with your 9th grade English students, when the students are responding to your review questions like seasoned, accomplished scholars of reading and writing, when you want to pinch yourself to see if this marvelous situation is all just a happy dream – then I guess you can say you’re having a good day as a teacher. This was what happened to me yesterday. For inexplicable reasons, everything “came together” and I had some of the best classes in my long career (40+ years) as a teacher. Everything seemed perfect, right out of a textbook for graduate education courses. Needless to say, my days aren’t always like this. For every productive, satisfying day of teaching, I have at least two days of struggle and disappointment. In that sense, teaching teenagers is like hitting a baseball: a 33% percent rate of success could be hall-of-fame material. Yesterday, I guess I could say I hit a home run, but that’s not truly accurate. More accurate would be to say everything hit a home run: the weather, the lovely garden, the beautiful poems we discussed, intelligence, peacefulness, love, the entire grand universe. Yesterday life itself came to the plate and smacked the ball over the fence, and I was lucky to be there to enjoy it. After more than forty years of teaching, I had a box seat at some of the best classes I’ve ever witnessed.

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