Friday, March 13, 2009

Growing Words

"Life is like a game of cards. The hand that is dealt you represents determinism; the way you play it is free will."
-Jawaharal Nehru

Sandi over at A Widow for One Year wrote about her job the other day. She's a middle school teacher and people often ask her how she can work with that age group. She loves it.
I teach sophomores in high school. People often ask me how I can teach high school. How do I deal with teenagers all day long? I love it.

Sophomore year in high school was the hardest year for me. Sophomore year was about chemistry and geometry. I barely left my room that year because I was grounded so much for grades- or lack thereof. It sucked.

I start off the year talking to my students about the fact that I know this will be the hardest year for them. I share my experiences with them. I look at them and I wonder how many of them 'get it'. I wonder if these young people, that were just a few short months earlier freshmen in high school, understand the enormity of the months ahead of them.

Each day in my classroom my students receive a quote on the board. They are to write a reaction to that quote. They can write about how they don't like the quote or how they like the quote. They can reflect on what the quote says or how it applies to their life somehow.

When I began reading the reactions I was disappointed by what I was seeing. The kids were simply writing about how they did not understand the quote. They wrote about the superficial and the simple. Even the most simple quote ("We secure our friends not by accepting favors but by doing them." Thucydides) came with a reaction such as, "I do not get what this quote is saying."

As time as gone on I have become continually amazed at how my students have changed. They have come to see the words on the board and on the page as something more than just words. They have come to see the power of the meaning behind the words. I am reading reactions that knock me off my feet. They are coming to understand things that they can only know because they are learning and growing with each passing day.

People constantly ask me how I can stand teaching high school. How do I deal with teenagers all day?

When I walk into my classroom in August and September and I see these young people in front of me I wonder if I'll be able to deal with them for the next 10 months. I wonder how I am possibly going to be able to teach them anything.

When I walk out of my classroom in June I am in awe of the transformation that my kids have gone through with very little help from me. I help them learn. I introduce them to new information. I help them in any way that I can. And they run with that and become awe inspiring individuals that I am proud to have known.

"The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in."
-Mitch Albom


Sandi said...

And thank goodness for our terrible experiences or we wouldn't be who we are today.

Marty, a.k.a. canape said...

Your students are lucky to have you. What a great post.

The Sports Mama said...

You know.. people ask me how I can stand sending my sophomore in high school son to the local public high school....

It's because he has teachers like you. Teachers that care, teachers that are as inspired by him as he is by them.

Teachers that want to be there, and love every minute of it.

Merrily Down the Stream said...

I believe being able to teach|reach is a gift - a talent. I absolutely do not have it. There are some who teach without the gift - clearly you have it.

Helen E.M. Wright said...

It's amazing to see the change in them over the year, isn't it!??! It makes it all worth it!!

Love your quotes. What a great idea!!

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