Tuesday, December 30, 2008

One of my goals for the second half of the school year is to allow myself to be shocked more often. I purposefully say ‘allow’ because all sorts of wonderful shocks are constantly occurring around me as I teach, but I’m too full of fuss and hubbub to let myself see and appreciate them. While I’m in a dither to complete all the steps in my lesson plan, small marvels are happening in the classroom which I completely miss. I allow myself to see the next item in the lesson plan but not the surprises softly exploding throughout the 48 minutes of class. If a shock can be defined as something that jars the mind or emotions as if with an unexpected blow, how many of these might there be during a typical 8th grade English class! One small example would be my own breathing. If I took a few seconds every so often during class to notice, again, the miracle of my own breath coming in and going out, what a pleasant shock that would be. Another example would be the look of sunlight as it lands on a table or a book – a small wonder in the midst of the labor of English class. Even more shocking, perhaps, would be the performance of the students, if I could only be more attentive to it. A single sentence spoken by a boy in a literary discussion, provided I heard it with genuine awareness, could be thoroughly shocking -- “something that jars the mind or emotions” in the best and most positive way. Similarly, an expression of sudden comprehension on the face of a girl could be as jolting as a rainbow in a rainy sky. These are the kind of shocks I want to be more watchful for in the next few months – jolting, joyful surprises that are always taking place in my classes and simply shouldn’t be missed.

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