I am forever readjusting my approach and outlook about my job, career, and vocation as a teacher. Much of my machinations rise out of my changing emotions: giddiness, elation, sadness, frustration, etc. This makes for a very unstable emotional life. However, from outward appearances, no one can tell. I am a calm, structured, and professional educator. (Cue evil laugh and tap fingers together simultaneously.) Little do they know. I am coming undone…in a good way!
I saw a quote recently and this is a paraphrase: “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf!” Look out world, this is my new mantra and yet another new found approach to my job, career, vocation: teaching. I am learning how to surf. This past week was just another roller coaster that ended on a high note. Sorry for the mixed metaphors!!! I am pleased with the community I have formed in my classroom.
I think I am very good at building excitement, for them and for myself, around what we are learning. I can’t help it because I am sort of high strung and it doesn’t take much to get me excited. I hosted a spelling bee on Friday on 4th grade “No Excuse Words.” They had 2 weeks to study the list and voila, Friday was the day. It was very official and they were so focused and excited. Even the worst spellers were doing well. They were so motivated. The concentration was thick in the room that chills ran up my spine.
I let them listen to an excerpt of Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s NPR interview on the event of her publishing, My Beloved World. This was the activating strategy before my writing lesson. She talked about how she went from a C to an A student in 5th grade and how she became a better writer in law school. They were introduced to the Ivy’s and what that means. They learned the importance of writing well. We launched into how to write an effective paragraph.
We wrote the letter explaining an upcoming project together as a class. It is my hope that they can better explain it to their parents (mostly Spanish speaking) as well as know all the details themselves.
We are having an election. The class offices are President, Vice President, Secretary of State, and Parliamentarian. Election speeches are set for the last week of this month. The election is February 1.
Each morning I read this great book, D is for Democracy: A Citizen’s Alphabet. This book is the launching pad for many of our class discussions. It helps us to look back at the seeds of democracy as we are now studying the Revolutionary War. It helps us to look forward as we move forward to the founding of the New Nation. It also give me a platform to preach about the importance of critical thinking because they are crucial to the success of our democracy. I tell them that I see a future president, senator, doctor, teacher, lawyer, sitting in the class.
When I open myself up, everything, literally, everything is fodder for a teaching moment. For example, they chuckled once when I read a book in which the pictures were caricatures. I explained that these big headed, big-earred pictures were caricatures or exaggerations of the characters’ facial features. I wrote the word on my easel and promised to bring in a caricature of myself. They were really excited about this. I just happened to have a caricature of myself from a previous job where I sat for a caricature artist at a staff festival.
Daily, these teaching moments occur and it is magical.
Another aspect of my life unrelated to teaching, helps to bolster me up to the task of what I am doing in the classroom. A balanced life allows me to be a better teacher. I enjoy writing. Now I am writing a FanFiction of ABC’s Scandal. This helps to get my creative juices flowing. I want to transition to writing a novel and this is helping me build my writing stamina. Check out my story here: Going in Circles. It helps to do something I love that has nothing to do with teaching.
At this juncture, on my Great American Scream Machine , (GASM…LOL do with that what you will!!) I am having a ball…this week!..at least) Whoop! Whoop!
Existential Angst=Joy…Would Kierkergard agree?