Friday, March 23, 2007


Probing in the American Heritage dictionary, I found some intriguing definitions for the word “jump”, many of which made me think about my work as a teacher.

One definition is “to move involuntarily, as in surprise: jumped when the phone rang.” It occurs to me that surprise should be (and probably is) a regular part of my English classes, mostly because my students, being teenagers and often being fairly sleepy, need to occasionally be jolted out of their reveries. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to cause them to “jump” now and then by making a shocking statement or taking a sudden sharp turn in the lesson. Of course, reading aloud a startling sentence or line of poetry could also be an effective way to get the students jumping, in this sense of the word.

Another definition is “to move quickly; hustle: Jump when I give you an order.” My classes are not military boot camps, but they are, and should be, orderly, efficient, and rather intense training grounds for future English scholars. There’s no time for dilly-dallying in my classes. As a teacher, I have a responsibility to prepare my students to be accomplished readers and writers, and for this to happen, the students must follow my leadership instantly and precisely. They need to do a lot of this kind of jumping, from the first moment of class to the last.

If they do follow my guidance in this way, they may see wonderful rewards in their paths, and, to use another definition of the word “jump”, they may “take prompt advantage; respond quickly: jump at a bargain.” It’s every teacher’s dream that his students will realize the many benefits to be derived from his class and quickly take advantage of them. He visualizes his students, like shoppers at a fantastic sale, going wild with all the “bargains” in knowledge offered in his class. “You’ll love Mr. Salsich’s class”, he imagines them saying. “He has all kinds of wonderful ideas available, at very reasonable prices!”

No comments: