Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Teaching Journal

Day 100, Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Two Versions of the Same Event


 How does it happen that on a day when a long-lingering cold seems worse than ever – when I’m coughing and sneezing more than I’m thinking or planning – how does it happen that on this kind of day I do some of my best teaching ever? This morning the 9th grade English classes were simply wonderful. I was sick and the kids were sleepy, but somehow we worked together to produce some fairly exhilarating learning. Reading lines from “The Tempest”, I was in my glory, waving my arms in gesture, stomping around the classroom like the enlightened Prospero, talking with the scholars about forgiveness, wisdom, and transformation. The scholars, too, seemed genuinely involved.


Teaching Journal
Day 100, Tuesday, February 24

How is that, on a day when my long-lingering cold felt worse than ever – when I felt more stuffy and feverish than organized and inspired, and when I probably should have been wrapped in blankets at home rather than leading my scholars through the last act of a Shakespeare play – how is it that on this day I did some of the best teaching I can recall? I’ve always believed that good teaching springs, at least partly, from the alertness and liveliness of the teacher, but today I felt more inert than alert, more dead, frankly, than alive – and yet some fairly adequate teaching occurred. Somehow, amid all the sneezing and sniffling, I managed to hold the kids’ attention as the final moments of the play unfolded. I actually inspired myself (if not the scholars), and when the classes were over, I felt somehow energized and uplifted. I still felt sick, I was still ready with dozens of coughs and sneezes, but the glory of Shakespeare was shining all around. How does this happen? How does an inspiring class arise from the fog and congestion of a cold?

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