Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Day 137, Monday, April 28

Today I made a snap decision that brought both favorable results and a feeling of bewilderment. The 8th graders were due to turn in their Washington scrapbooks, and, at the beginning of the first class, on impulse, I told the students they could take five minutes to quietly look at each other’s books. They were obviously grateful for this permission and took good advantage of the free time, browsing through the scrapbooks with comments and laughs. As I watched them milling around the books, I felt slightly bewildered. Why hadn’t I been doing this for the past 30 years? Why hadn’t giving an occasional ‘free time’ to the students been an integral part of my teaching style? Why did it take me this long to realize that a few free, relaxing minutes in the midst of the severities of English study can be extremely valuable?


This morning one of my students asked to leave the room to see the nurse about a headache. After she was gone about fifteen minutes, I grew concerned, and so I excused myself from the class and walked down the hall to the nurse’s office. I talked to the girl and the nurse for a few minutes, and then walked back to the room. I had been gone long enough for teenagers to grow restive and rowdy, but when I walked down the hall, I could hear that my students were just as quiet as they were when I left. As I entered the classroom, the students looked like they were quite ready to get back to serious English work. As I do dozens of times each day, I felt grateful to be teaching in a school where a teacher can so thoroughly trust the young people in his charge.

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