ONE YEAR WITH AN ENGLISH TEACHER
Day 34, Wednesday, October 24, 2007
We do a few minutes of silent reading at the start of my classes, and today I took a moment to look up from my book (Jane Austen's Emma) and take in the tranquility of the scene. I had soft classical music playing, and most of the students seemed fairly immersed in their books. It was the kind of serenity that is probably somewhat rare in today's world -- no talking, no noise, no doing this and that, just calm melodies and stress-free reading. It was a pleasure to sip my ice water (provided by the server) and appreciate this peaceful start to another English class.
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Today I did something I had not planned to do, and it worked out well. I had planned to have very brief conferences (like one minute) with each student about their portfolio paragraphs, but after doing it in the classroom fairly unsuccessfully with the first-period 9th grade section, I made an impromptu decision to hold the rest of the conferences in the hall. There happened to be a comfortable chair outside my room, so I pulled another chair out and the students and I had informative and profitable one-on-one discussions. It helped me to see, once again, how valuable conferences can be. I was able to point out specific strengths and weaknesses in each paragraph, and, more importantly, I gave specific face-to-face praise to each student, which everyone appreciates. Because of these longer hallway conferences, my lessons plans had to be shelved, but I believe it was a change worth making. Yes, I switched horses in midstream (which I normally hate to do), but the new horse proved to be a considerable upgrade.