Back to school, back to school…

09Mar09

So I went to this superrad English teacher conference this past weekend, and I got all this really useful information and inspiration and such, and now I’m back to school.  And school is hard.

My favorite post-conference conference-related happening happened in 4th hour today, when the kids (who are pretty cool, really) asked me what I learned at the conference.  I told them that I learned that I wasn’t actually teaching them how to read poetry, but rather just throwing poems at them and saying, “There ya go!” to which one of my students seemed to grin, and nod, and roll his eyes, and raise his eyebrows, and shrug at the same time.  That’s a lot of (possibly imagined) gesturing to interpret at once, but I’m pretty sure it meant I was very, very right, and that they (if this kid is representative) are relieved that I’ve finally figured it out.

Meanwhile, other things are happening, like my third hour class being assholes about being asked to actually think.  For Christ’s sake.  Now, if I were still being a good teacher, like it was easy to do while away from actual students this weekend, I would probably take a closer look at why, exactly, they were disengaging, as thinking about things that are interesting is generally its own reward (that, or I’m some sort of anomaly, but I don’t uh think so).  Then, I would probably try to figure out whether the work of thinking (about poetry, in this case) was worth the outcome (understanding a poem, in this case) for these students, and if not, I would likely try to figure out how to make sure whatever I’m asking them to do IS, for them, worth the time and effort I’m asking them to put in.  I…don’t know.  But I’m sure that being pushed to actually interact with texts–even poetry, which they REVILE–is better than being asked to just implicitly KNOW a text without being given any tools or strategies for understanding it.

Whew!  Lots of thinking that probably could have remained private, there.  Oh well.  I’ve been wanting to write but not feeling very zesty, so instead you get a marginally coherent bit of boring teacher meta-analysis.  You’re welcome!

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