Not Quite Cloud Nine

The end to a short week seemed a long way off at times. It wasn’t an easy start to the term, but there were more rewards than problems. I’ve missed this chance to grow with a class. During my first week of teaching ESL in 2005, I was swamped and confused. I didn’t know what I was doing in the classroom, but I did have one class that I made a connection with. It was a class of nine boys and two girls. They didn’t know how to spell let alone write. We were doing basic conversation like, “Hello Mom.” “What did you learn at school today?” The kids didn’t seem to get what I was trying to do mostly because I didn’t really understand what they needed to learn. However, as I spent time listening to them, I figured out how to connect. Wrestling.

These boys bounced off the walls all the time. They spouted wrestling moves and names. I accepted their desire to have wrestling nicknames instead of their other arbitrary English names. I had a class of John Cenas, Randy Ortons, Chris Benoits and so on. I would fluctuate from being “Big Show Teacher” or “Batista Teacher”. It really was a great class, and I do remember sitting behind my desk one day, and thinking about how I’d love to teach these guys for the next two years and see where we end up.

Fast forward to 2011, and I’m still trying to figure out how best to connect with my class. I’ve thrown out a bunch of different lures to see which students would bite. We’ve had personal artifact presentations, chats about Paris Hilton, debates about Green Day, collaborations on a google doc, research on Charlie Sheen and Jay – Z, and a close reading of an Avett Bros song. Not all of it worked on everyone and some found it all slightly annoying, but I hope to catch a couple of them, and if I’m lucky, I’ll get to see where we end up in a few years.

Side Note: Tyler Durman was a great guest speaker today. He had a great message not just for the students (I’m assuming because I missed it), but he left the staff with a simple message after school that rang true for me. I too grew up with parents that I know loved me, but didn’t always express pride in me. I don’t doubt that some of my students also don’t get told how much they matter on a regular basis. I had a moment today where I had wanted to tell a student that she had a much better day today, but I didn’t. I was going to let it slide, but now I will not just have to, but want to remind her of how much I respected her choice to come to class with a better attitude.

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