Monday, October 20, 2008

Teaching Journal
Day 29, October 20, 2008

One Teacher’s Idioms: “A Blessing in Disguise”

This has become one of my favorite idioms, mostly because I find blessings in disguise everywhere. In fact, to me, everything seems to be a concealed blessing – even the boy in my English class who can’t seem to focus his attention on anything related to English. Today this lad’s attention was everywhere but on what we were doing in class, but somehow I feel that his lack of concentration, in the long run, will be helpful to both him and me. Instead of fretting about it, I’m feeling strangely positive about what it means for both of us. For the boy, his inattentiveness will – because I'll remind him about it now and again – give him something specific to work on throughout the year. It’s another skill, like trapping the ball in soccer, that he can take pride in improving as the weeks pass. When I present him with stickers for being attentive, or just pat him on the back. he will feel proud that he was able to accomplish a difficult feat – a feeling that would be unavailable to him were it not for his lack of attentiveness today. As for me, my student's lack of focus is a blessing in the form of a wake up call to remember that 8th grade English can be deadly boring. No matter how carefully I plan my lessons, no matter how many “exciting” twists I try to put into them, the activities of English class are often no more exciting to a teenager than the activities on a deserted street. This boy may have an unusual problem with inattentiveness, but he may also simply be bored to death by my teaching style. A wake up call for Mr. Salsich: There are a zillion things more thrilling than your English class.
One boy in particular was a star today when we were listening to an audio recording of a rather abstruse story by Bret Harte. Occasionally I paused the recording and asked the students if they were following what was happening, and this boy was one of the very few who were. Again and again he raised his hand and told us exactly who was who and what was what in the story. I was surprised by this, mostly because I knew that when I was his age, I would probably have been utterly bewildered by this story. I complimented him on his literary acumen and received a shy smile and a thank you in return.
I have been thinking lately that I would like to think of the 8th and 9th grade scholars as my "guests" in English class. They come to my classroom to "visit" each day, and it is my duty, as the host, to treat them like the honored guests they are. I should do whatever I can to make them feel throughly welcome and comfortable.

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