Day 92, Tuesday, February 10, 2009
During quiet reading time at the start of one class, I noticed a boy leaning over and showing a friend a passage in his book. They were whispering and smiling as they looked at the page. It was just a passing moment, but there was significance in it for this old teacher. Here were two kids sharing their zest for words and ideas, two young scholars getting pleasure together from the richness of written words. Their passion, for that fleeting moment or two, was as strong and deep as any lifelong love. Storms in the sky sometimes burst and vanish in astonishing suddenness, and the ardor these boys were feeling for the book will quickly disappear, I’m sure, as fast as the next tantalizing interest comes along. But for a moment or two in my quiet classroom, they were lost together in the love of books that every English teacher loves to see.
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Today I experienced the willingness and wisdom that can come forth when a teacher puts his trust in his students. I gave the students a list of 100 SAT vocabulary words that I thought they could study and learn in the final ten weeks of school. However, I asked them what they thought. Could they do this? I asked – could they memorize ten words per week until the final exam? Did they think it was a workable plan, something they could accomplish and feel good about? I must admit that I hadn’t planned to ask their opinion, but it seemed like the right thing to do at the moment – and I’m glad I did it, because it brought forth a very gratifying response from the students. After just a few moments of discussion, they all seemed to agree that, yes, it was a project they could complete. They even appeared to think it would be a helpful activity, one that would make them feel proud of their accomplishment when it was completed. I thanked them for their input, and said I would give it some more thought, but I had already made up mind. Wise and eager scholars like these deserve a special challenge like this.