Thursday, October 25, 2012

Another week in the life of a teacher.

Quotes of note:
  • A former student was chatting with me, asking me how things are going, and then she inquired, "How's the synagogue?"
  • Played some music during class while the kids were making flashcards, and Hanson's "Mmmbop" came on. A girl asked, "Is this the Jackson 5?" While I'm thrilled she's heard of the Jackson 5, I still felt a little piece of my soul wither away. And I told her this song was popular when I was a kid, and she asked, "When were you a kid?" like I was from the Stone Age or something.

Caught my CP1 classes trying to trick me into thinking they'd done their homework yesterday. Gotta love making the homework question about something that happens in the last two pages of the chapter. When almost every response was irrelevant to the question, I just kept asking each one, "Did you read the WHOLE chapter?" I was not pleased with them, to say the least. Luckily though, they have overall been doing a good job with this book, and today was a much more productive day.

I'm so excited to go to the Boston Book Festival this weekend! I've never been, but it sounds fantastic, and a few of my English teacher peeps are going as well. I'm planning on going to four lectures: "The Short Story," where one of my favorite authors, Junot Diaz, will be speaking (I am ridiculously excited about the prospect of meeting him and getting my books signed), "Great Brits and Books," where I'll get to see Maria Tatar, "Graphic Novels," and "Jewish Jocks," where Franklin Foer, author of How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization. I am so ready to geek out all day long, and I'll be sure to post and update afterwards.

I also wanted to share with you a letter that I read after seeing it shared on Facebook. I read it with my advisory today, and plan on talking about it with my other classes next week. It is an open letter to Ann Coulter, who, during the last presidential debate, referred to President Obama as a "retard." The letter, which you can read here, is a beautifully written piece by a man with Down syndrome who is a Special Olympian. He reminded the ever-classless (and that's me using every ounce of restraint that I posses) Ms. Coulter that such words should not be used as insults, that comparing people to individuals like him, who have to overcome so much and yet still "see life as a wonderful gift....should be considered a badge of honor." As an English teacher, I strive to teach my students about the power of words. Often we talk about that in a positive light, trying to get them to understand that with great communication skills paired with powerful ideas, they can rock the world. But it is important to also remember just how powerful words can be in hurting and degrading others. I talked to my students about this, reminding them that they have no idea how hurtful it can be when people use words like "retarded" and "gay" as insults and turn them into synonyms for "stupid" and "wrong." I asked them to be more conscious of their language, and to speak up when others use this language. I told them that I have asked people, including friends, not to speak that way. Not in a confrontational or angry way, but in a gentle manner that still conveyed that I'm not okay with what they said. Hopefully that message gets through to some of them, because it's important to start a ripple effect in trying to solve these types of issues.

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