ONE YEAR WITH AN ENGLISH TEACHER
Day 104, February 26, 2008
The metaphor of the day: table setting
When I have guests over for dinner, I particularly enjoy the process of 'setting the table'. It's a way of preparing for the success of the evening, of making it more likely that my company will enjoy themselves. If everything is in its proper place when guests arrive, it somehow seems more likely that everything will happen harmoniously and satisfyingly. The same is true in my classroom, where my students are the 'company' and the round table is our gathering place where we sit together to enjoy a good 'meal' of learning. Just as with my dinner guests, it's imperative that I 'set the table' in my classroom with care and attention. For each class, the round table must be clean, free of clutter, and positioned correctly, and the chairs must be pushed under the table, ready for new guests. The entire room must present a look of readiness and hospitality as if the only reason it exists is to make students feel cherished, comfortable, and ready to learn.
Today I noticed that Emma was trying very diligently to stay alert during our reading of Macbeth. It's a challenging play for her, and she often drifts off as we go through the complicated lines. Today, though, she was making a serious effort to stay with us. At one point she raised her hand and offered a wise explanation of one of the lines. When I asked her how that idea came to her, she replied that she had simply read the note at the bottom of the page. It may have seemed like a 'simple' task to her, but to me it signified a blossoming student of literature. I took a moment to praise her for being an earnest and intelligent reader.