During my last couple of decades of teaching, my friend Crystal got me into several situations I wouldn’t normally have experienced. She was a teacher of second language students whose dedication went above and beyond what anyone could expect. Because of my respect for her, and my affection for the students we shared, I occasionally found myself doing extra things to back her up.
For several years she had taught a summer writing program for new English learners which included a guest writer. Funding for the guest writer dried up and I was the only writer she knew, so I volunteered to step into that role.
I only had two pieces which were age appropriate, so the first year I taught a poetry lesson using There Am I (see post 8. Written on 9-11). I talked shortly about myself, read the poem, led them through brainstorming, and set them to writing a poem.
One lesson teachers have to learn is when to back off and shut up. I have aquired that skill, but it’s been hard for me. At the appropriate time, I sat quietly at the head of the table for fifteen minutes while they worked.
I knew some of these strudents from having them in large classes, but I did not know them well. Many of them I did not know at all. We had seen each other on campus, but they were sixth or seventh graders who had not reached me yet.
They were under my eye. That is a powerful phrase. They had to produce for a man they did not really know. If they had been students in my regular classroom it would have been easier, but not easy.
They had to write, under my eye, and then they had to submit what they wrote for judgement.
When I was a child, I loved school, but I have no difficulty understanding why so many hate it. As I watched these children try to write, I considered how I would have felt in their place. Then I took up paper and wrote a new poem while they worked.
Technical note for fellow bloggers. Since the theme I use does not allow full control of vertical and horizontal spacing, this poem had to be written on a drawing program, converted into a JPEG, and inserted as if it were a picture.