Anyway, long and hard day of teaching. Today’s the easy day, nothing but Junior Lit classes, and I have them learning how to write a standard five paragraph essay. I had them write to three college level prompts to make three paragraphs, then told them they were doing an essay and they had their body done already. They just needed seven sentences for the intro and conclusion. We did the thesis sentence together, but they gave me the words to form up the thesis sentence.
Then I set them to writing their intros and moved around when they called for help. I have a great comfy chair in that classroom—I never use it. And while I was helping brats, I noticed one listening very intently to me, but always looking away when I met her gaze. So once done with the others, I went around and asked if she needed help.
Turns out she only knows very broken English. Must be a relatively newcomer to El Paso. We get a lot of English Language Learners, and she couldn’t follow the story we’d read. She also couldn’t understand most of what I said when I summarized the story in a few sentences. So I drew it for her in tiny stick figures (“Earth on Turtle’s Back”) on her paper, and used very simple terms. By copying my prompts and following my questions “Who did Muskrat help? How did Muskrat help the lady? Is Muskrat big or small? So…what’s that say about helping people?” she could complete the thesis sentence and intro/conclusion in her own simple terms. Sometimes it feels like pulling teeth waiting for them to respond because you want to answer it for them, but after enough time, they’ll manage, if smiled at and gently have the questions repeated/rephrased and enough time is given for them to make their own answer.
Finally I told the kids that they just had to finish the conclusion and intro. We’d finish the last part of the essay (putting it together, but they don’t know that yet) next class, so they have no homework for me over the weekend.
The final essay will be handwritten on blue paper (actually, the whole class decides which color they prefer, blue, red or green) and thus they get to revise their work before I grade it. And also they won’t have to rip it out of their notebook. So yey.
My legs, ankle and feet feel like they’re going to shatter. I have to take long baths to ease the ache a little. And administration hasn’t helped by making us walk across the whole dang campus to make our meetings. But when you can get to a little girl who’s terrified of asking questions, the kid who thinks he’s lousy at writing when really he just needs it visually and slowly explained several times, when the smart-asses ask for help or checks to make sure they did it right, and no one is asleep, everyone worked…
Fuck yeah. Best year ever so far.