Today has been an interesting day for me. It’s been a bit rough emotionally. When I got home from teaching this afternoon, I felt like Frodo circa ten minutes after the Scouring of the Shire. Now part, no, most of that had nothing to do with today specifically. It’s just been a rough week. I had surgery and it’s been rough to bounce back from that physically and emotionally. I’ve been feeling overwhelmed at by stuff with the College of Education. C’est la vie. I suppose.
When I got home, I was just ready to give up. I was exhausted and I could have written several emo poems about life. So I did what any intelligent human being would do. I watched last night’s episodes of Bones, The Office, and 30 Rock on Hulu. And then I went to the store and bought the ingredients to make homemade pasta sauce-as well as some Italian sorbetto that was on sale and some coconut-milk-based ice cream that is dairy-free and soy-free and also on sale. (By the way, this coconut-milk based ice cream is a) sold at Meijer and b) so worth the hype and the price. It’s been on sale the past few weeks and I tried the Mocha-Almond-Fudge last week; it was amazing. This week, I’m trying the Cherry Amaretto. It sure as heck sounds good.) But I digress…
As I drove home from the store, I planned the rest of my day. I would do some work on a project for my Content Area Literacy class that is a waste of my time, energy, money, and life. Then I would make dinner, maybe do a bit more work on the project, and then watch a movie with sorbetto and beer. And I began to think back on the highlights and lowlights of my day.
Two big highlights were found-both in Mrs. S’s fourth-grade class.
1) I went into the room by myself this morning and started class without Senora. This was Senora’s idea, not mine. But I’m getting more comfortable with it. (She also had me do it in sixth grade this morning, third grade yesterday, and in Mr. B’s fourth-grade on Wednesday.) The munchkins asked where Senora was and I told her that I had lost her. They said that they’d seen her earlier in the day. So I told them that I’d lost her since then. And then she walked into the room. Someone said something about Senorita making Senora reappear. And one adorable nine-year-old boy said, “That’s because she’s a fairy princess.”
Why yes, yes, I am a fairy princess. And I even have the wings, wand, and tiara to prove it-but they’re at my parents’ house.
2) I was teaching a lesson in that class about “Me gusta,” “No me gusta,” “Te gusta,” and “No te gusta.” (I like, I don’t like, You like, and you don’t like.) It was my fourth time teaching this lesson and I’m getting pretty comfortable with it-but it’s kind of dense and boring. It’s a little difficult for the fourth-graders. But they’re getting it. Some of them are getting it faster than others.
Enter Luke. Luke is adorable and the kind of kid that you cannot help but love. He’s pretty smart and very well-behaved and he’s the kind of boy that someday will be a heart-throb but without ever really understanding WHY all the girls giggle and whisper and blush whenever he walks by. But right now, he’s nine and wonderful. During the lesson today, I could tell he was struggling to understand but he wasn’t quite getting it. The kids were writing sentences on their mini-whiteboards (picture a slate with a whiteboard instead of a chalkboard) and then sharing examples. I could tell who was getting it (the boy who wrote like six or seven examples at least) and who was struggling (the girl who didn’t quite understand that “Me gusta” only means “I like,” not “I like to play”). And I could see Luke trying to work through it in his mind. And he asked me a question or two that showed me that he hadn’t gotten it QUITE yet but he was getting there. And then when I was about to tell Jack that his example would be the last example of the exercise, Luke raised his hand. And I could see in his eyes that he understood it. So after Jack shared, I let Luke give the final example. And he did get it. I felt so happy for him and proud.
See getting through to the kids like Casey who can write six or seven examples after a two-minute explanation is fairly easy. It is rewarding but getting through to the kids who struggle more or have to think their way through things to really get it, that’s where the real reward is found. That’s where the real teaching is done-in the trenches. And it isn’t easy. It probably isn’t as hard as carrying the Ring to Mount Doom or Scouring the Shire, but it might be as rewarding. So I’ll take the exhaustion with the jubilation because I believe in a free Narnia.
But now I’m just being silly and mixing my metaphors.