ONE YEAR WITH AN ENGLISH TEACHER
Day 74, Tuesday, January 8
Today, during one class, I handed out the 9th grade lesson to the 8th grade. It may seem like a small mistake -- just a little mindless slip-up which I quickly fixed -- but it's been nagging at me all day. I think it bothers me so much because it's an example of the kind of distracted and unmindful teaching that I've been trying to eliminate this year. When I distributed the wrong lessons to the 8th grade, I simply wasn't thinking, and a teacher who isn't thinking is not a good teacher. I can't think of a profession that requires more constant and pinpointed thinking than teaching, and this morning I was way off the mark. For at least a few moments (and probably more), I was off in reverie land, which is where no teacher should be when he's in his classroom with his students.
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In my first-period class, we started in an extra-relaxed manner, and I enjoyed it greatly. (I think the students felt the same way.) For some reason, I was a little more casual at the beginning of class than I usually am. I chatted with a few kids and, oddly, felt little of my usual compulsion to get right to the business of English. We probably got down to work about 3 minutes later than usual, but, thinking back, I feel it was worth it. Since the kids are pressured and harried most of the day, these extra 3 minutes must have been like a gift from the blue for them. I can't do it every day, but every so often a simple gift like that can turn a stress-filled day into a stroke of good luck.