I always feel a wee bit of internal foot-dragging as the beginning of a new school year approaches. This year perhaps even more than others, as I’d spent a lot of time with my accreditation coordinator hat on preparing for the self-study.
But at the end of the first day, I was rejuvenated—this, these kids, their curiosity, their learning, is the reason for all that other work.
What are some of the things that energized me in these first few days?
- Hearing an Honors English 10 student in a roundtable discussion of their summer reading of Things Fall Apart ask another student, who suggested that the main character was selfish, “Could you give some examples of that?”
- Hearing AP English 11 students in a roundtable discussion of their summer reading of David and Goliath asking their own questions and working with the group to answer them. Like when one student asked, “What was the point of the story about the French town that wouldn’t give up their Jews?” and the group spent the next 10 minutes dealing with it.
- Passing on books I love. Like Japan at War: An Oral History, which I loaned to a student who sat straight up with attention when I mentioned the book as an example of why I love teaching world literature—for the new perspectives it opens.
- Watching students with their annotated copy of the poem “The Creation” and a Bible open in front of them discussing similarities and differences in the source material and the adaptation. One student summed it up: “The poem is like a movie of the Bible passage—a good movie.” (See this blog for more of that lesson.)
- Seeing students and teachers all over the middle and high school deeply engaged with books during our newly implemented weekly Drop Everything And Read (DEAR) time Thursday afternoon (see photos throughout).
I might have gone a little crazy with asking students to annotate texts (even their syllabus!) to spur and show active reading. Friday when I handed out AP/honors class permission forms that need to be signed by Monday, one student asked, “Do we need to annotate them?”
You know what? I’m happy to be back from summer vacation and into the real work of teaching.
Now I just have to reorganize my classroom library which got ransacked to supply reading material for DEAR.