ONE YEAR WITH AN ENGLISH TEACHER
Day 80, Thursday, January 17, 2008
Metaphor of the Day: Bubbles
6: 15 a.m.
Today I want to keep in mind the simple truth that nothing is a big deal. Unfortunately, both my students and I often fall into the habit of thinking that everything is a big deal -- homework, quiz answers, grades, comments in class, behavior, lesson plans, teaching techniques, etc. Somehow, things often grow to appear way more important than they really are. We tend to forget, my students and I, that everything that occurs is actually as ephemeral and trifling as a bubble. The low grade a student received today: in one month, will it really be any more important than a vanished bubble? Last Friday's failed lesson plan: in one year, will I even remember it? Will it have affected the greater good of my life, or the movement of the planets - or will it have long since disappeared like an insubstantial bubble? Even the brilliant ideas that come to all 44 of us now and then: where will those ideas be ten years from now? Somewhere in the infinite space of the universe, just like all the zillions of departed bubbles. This, of course, doesn't mean that my students and I shouldn't take our school work seriously. Of course we should, just as we take playing an important game seriously. We just need to keep in mind that the game, and our school work, is really not a big deal, is as momentary and fleeting as bubbles in a stream, shining in the sunlight one moment and gone the next.
Today Jessy was the "assistant teacher" in her class, and I was very impressed by her entire demeanor as she carried out her duties. She came to class early and set herself up at my desk, checking my notes to her and making sure she was thoroughly ready to go. When I nodded to her, she promptly got the class started, and then proceeded to lead the students through parts of the lesson plan with dignity and efficiency. I almost had the feeling that she wanted me to stop interrupting so much so she could carry more responsibility. She obviously took great pride in what she was doing. Who knows, maybe I saw the beginning of a future teaching career today.
I read some of Great Expectations aloud to the class yesterday and today, and it reminded me what a powerful experience that can be for kids. Dickens' language is so rich with poetry and meaning, and his characters so dense with motives and idiosyncrasies, that it's almost imperative that as much as possible of his books be read aloud. I enjoyed doing it these past two days, and I loved the way Grace and Luke read when their turn came. They read aloud with poise and flair, as though they've been doing it for years.