Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Teaching Journal
Day 45, Tuesday, November 11, 2008

As a middle school English teacher, I’m more interested in being discoverative than creative. I realize I’m using a word not found in the dictionary, but it seems to exactly fit my notion of the role of a teacher. In my teaching, I don’t believe I personally create anything; I simply discover ideas that are there for the taking. Each day, as if by a miracle, I find ideas that help my students learn, almost as if the ideas are lying around me like pieces of gold. I don’t create these ideas; I simply accept them and put them to use. I discover them in much the same way that one discovers beautiful shells along the shore. What I hope to do, day after day, is be ever more vigilant in my search for these good ideas about teaching. If I’m lackadaisical or slapdash or inattentive, I may pass them by without noticing them. However, if I’m as “discoverative” as possible, that will never happen.
One of the 9th grade scholars (a girl who is normally quite reserved) was a star in our literary discussion today. We were conversing about a rather impenetrable Emily Dickinson poem, and this girl seemed filled with wise insights about the poem. Time after time she raised her hand and enlightened us with astute remarks. Somehow she made a direct connection with Ms. Dickinson’s words, and out of this association came comments that benefited all of us.
One of the classes wrote an in-class essay today, and I took the opportunity to be the “server” while they wrote. As they worked on their assignment, I came around with a tray of their mugs filled with hot water, into which they quietly stirred their own hot chocolate or tea bags. They then continued to work on their essays, sipping a bit of flavorsome refreshment now and then. As I worked at my desk, I happily took in the sounds of hard work and comfort – the scratching of pencils and the tinkling of spoons on the sides of mugs. One boy, I noticed, was careful to not only drink all of his hot chocolate, but to painstakingly scrape every last ounce of chocolate from the inside of his mug. He wrote carefully for five minutes, scraped carefully for one, wrote for five, scraped for one, and so on.

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