Day 125, April 9, 2005
One successful strategy I've used this year is the 'break time'. In each class, I give the students a two-minute break about half-way through the period, and, surprisingly, it's proven to be one of my best teaching methods. Today during the break the kids lounged at ease in the back of the room, talking and laughing quietly. They looked unperturbed and happy, something that every teacher would like to notice in his students. When I tapped the chime to signal the end of the break, they immediately quieted down and returned to their places, and we continued with the lesson. The break, I think, serves the same good purpose as a "pit stop" on a long bike ride or a time-out during a wearing basketball game. It also gives the students the reassuring feeling that I actually care about them. Yes, we lose two minutes of work time, but I think what we gain more than makes up for it.
I noticed many of the students thoughtfully pondering some of the poems in the tournament as I read them aloud. After reading, I would look up and see a girl staring at me with furrowed forehead, or a boy leaning forward with eyes squinting in careful deliberation. Merysa (a poet herself) has been an especially attentive listener. She takes in each poem like it's a gift of rare and uplifting magic.