(First published on my blog in 2009, I wrote this brief post because I was yearning for teaching and my students.
In 2009 I was one year into retirement after 32 years in teaching,and I was having withdrawal.
I know. I know.
If any of my former English department colleagues read this, I can hear them now:
”Well, you didn’t appear to be ‘yearning’ for teaching during faculty meetings when we were all rolling our eyes.”
Again, I know.
But this is my fantasy, right?)
My classroom, AP American literature class, March 2008
”Good morning students.”
(walk toward them, smiling- show them by your body language that you are prepared and you have been waiting for them to arrive and you can’t wait to begin- these first minutes of class are critical)
“Please take out paper and pen for notes.”
(this simple , old school directive sends a message of hope- everyone can take out paper and pen- everyone has a fighting chance for success)
“Our focus this morning is an introduction to the philosophy of Ralph Waldo Emerson-“
“One of the coolest guys you will ever meet.”
“I know, I know.”
( if groaning begins, let them sink into teenager-dom for about 3 seconds and then say)
“Work with me here.”
“Emerson’s on your side. Today you are going to meet the gift that keeps giving. Once Emerson hits your memory bank, you will be amazed at the reference points he provides.”
“Turn to page 288 in your American literature book.”
(Note to teaching self: ask someone to read the quotation, but do not call on anyone in particular.
Wait…wait… wait for it -as my grandson would say-
Someone inevitably begins to read- without being called upon to read. I love that. It puts students on edge, which is a really good place for students to be. It’s like saying, “Snap out of it, now let’s get after it.”)
(now start calling on them by name- they’re ready)
where are you in this?”