Monday, December 01, 2008

Teaching Journal
Day 55, Monday, December 1, 2008

One part of my lesson with the 8th grade didn’t go the way I’d hoped it would this morning, but I’m trying my best not to ‘pass judgment’ on it. I showed the students a website that I thought was quite exciting, but after a minute or so, it was clear that the students felt differently. As I demonstrated how the website works, there was a palpable feeling of bewilderment and weariness in the air. I ended my presentation early, and for a few moments I was feeling discouraged and disappointed. However, it occurred to me after the students left that ‘judging’ the relative success of the presentation would be a foolish and useless enterprise. After all, who really knows how the students might have benefited from it? Who has enough wisdom and perspicacity to see into the hearts of each student and perceive how their minds were affected by the website, and by what I said? Who has access to a big enough picture to be able to assess the trillions of possible benefits that the students might have received? Certainly not me. I am merely one breeze in the infinite wind of learning that blows through the universe. I blew a certain way this morning, and I have to feel that, in one way or another, my actions will eventually produce some advantageous results. I simply have to keep teaching, keep analyzing my lessons, keep trying different approaches, keep having faith in myself -- and let the great universe itself do the judging.
When the student rings the chimes to bring the silent reading period to an end, I must remember to wait a few moments – maybe more than a few – before moving the scholars on to the next part of the lesson. There is no hurry. The clocks will keep ticking at the same pace, the planets will continue turning at their accustomed speed, and night will fall whenever it will fall – no matter how fast I push the students in my classes. Like the slowly changing sunlight on a given day, I need to allow my students to unhurriedly travel through my lessons. It’s the only way for them to truly see the sights I’ve prepared for them.
I was surprised today when a girl who is the designated ‘comfy chair sitter’ this week politely declined the privilege. When I asked her about it, she simply said, “I prefer to have a table to work on.”
During yesterday’s daylong storm, I got to thinking about the hundreds and thousands of thoughts that occur to my students during each English class. It’s a ‘rainstorm of thoughts’ – a steady shower of ideas falling freely on the scholars from who knows where. Best of all, like rain, this constant shower of thoughts does not discriminate. Rain fell on every house in Westerly yesterday, and splendid thoughts fall on each of my students during every class. Perhaps I should occasionally sit back and try to picture this mental storm, this graceful and ceaseless descent of ideas in Room 2.

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