Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Unbelievable Classes

(To my students: 
Bell word is in red, echoes in blue.)

Teaching, to me, has grown to be an entirely unbelievable enterprise. Sometimes the things that happen in my classes are simply beyond belief – beyond anything that I might have imagined decades ago when I began teaching. Every day incredible events occur, from an unusual smile by a shy student, to a string of discerning sentences spoken by a boy about a book which he says he hates, to even – these days – the steady flow of warm air from the floor ducts. These may seem like just commonplace occurrences, but hidden inside their ordinariness is a strange kind of rareness. It often feels obvious to me that every incident in every English class is so strange and new-fangled as to be thoroughly incredible. Just the other day a boy turned in an essay shining with insights, this from a guy who usually gave English assignments a swift glance and no more. Yesterday a girl grew red in the face when I praised her paragraph in front of the class, and later a small smile from me caused the whole class to turn into laughing fools. These are, yes, just ordinary events in my usually run-of-the-mill English class, but, for some reason, they sometimes shine like implausible mysteries.

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