Friday, January 23, 2009

Beware of the Dog

Today is day one...of my other blog! In this spot, you will find spotted dogs, spotted kids, teaching spots, assorted dots and all manner of spottings from the world of my classroom and that which surrounds it...which is just about everything. For those of you who teach, you know exactly what I mean. All roads lead back to that living room that we settle into in late August and then don't leave again until mid-June! Everywhere you go, everything you do is wrapped around that schedule and the plans that live inside your brain! (Even potty breaks, for crying out loud! Okay, no more crying out loud, I promise!) 
First of all, I am not a jaded teacher, I still LOVE what I do. Honestly, if they let us come and go, and we could teach classes of 12 to 14, I'd stay forever! Can you imagine that? God. Well that's not what they're serving up in my home district, that's for sure. Lay-offs. That's what they're talking about, plain and simple. If I were a new teacher, which I'm not, I would not get myself crazed with that, though. I'd lay low, make a mark for yourself, which means making yourself indispensable in many ways. Just love what you do...savor every minute, even if your administrators don't see it, your kids and parents will. And that brings me to rule number one:
You gotta love it! Despite all the public commentary about summers off, great salaries (oh, that's a good one) and the rest of it. You know you gotta love the kids, and then you'll be able to do it for a lifetime...and you'll have to!
I had a blast today...teaching African Folktales to my sixth graders. After Christmas, I told them I was giving them back their toys---all their favorite picture books from their baby  years. We read a few, and then they brought in their own as well. We studied how they were built and what we know about story construction. We then studied "Where Stories Come From," a Zulu story straight off the internet. We compared the structure...(named it a 'stepping stone story' like Wiz. of Oz) and long story short, we studied many more too. We're now up to Circle, Stepping Stone, Trickster and Pour quoi. We listed as many questions for the universe as we could and I wrote a pour quoi story using a recipe we'd created. I gave kids a half hour to pick their favorite question and create an impromptu story to perform on Monday. They had a blast!
The room was full of movement, enthusiasm and life! What teacher could ask for more? Now, on Monday, we'll videotape the results. And the Oscar goes to...who cares! Kids will work on their own next week to write and publish on their own following a little more specific instruction. TGIF to all my weary friends...only the freedom of Saturday could be better!

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