ONE YEAR WITH AN ENGLISH TEACHER
Day 43, November 6, 2007
Today was another roller coaster. Three of my classes were fairly tedious and unrewarding (for both students and me, I'm afraid), but the last one was as exciting as any I've had this year. I'm not sure where to locate the cause for the less-than-satisfactory classes. I feel like a doctor who treats boring English lessons and can't settle on a diagnosis. The roots of unsuccessful classes are sometimes so deep and convoluted that they're ultimately impossible to trace. (That's why teaching, to me, is rocket science.) All I know, right now, is that I felt, now and then, like I was stumbling in the dark, the blind leading the blind. However, as so often happens to me, it all changed in a flash with one wonderful class. It was a 9th grade section, and right from the start I could feel that this would be a gratifying 48 minutes of teaching and learning. In their discussion of Great Expectations, the kids were earnest, occasionally profound, and even sometimes sophisticated. At one point, I left my usual place at the table and sat in an empty student chair and just listened to them talk about the book. I was amazed at their seriousness and erudition. They brought out things in the chapter I had never noticed, connections that were very subtle, insights that seniors would be proud to have. This was Jaimiee, Siobhan, Jeff, Ronaldo, and Mike -- not kids you would immediately think of as English scholars.