Today has been a surprizingly good one!
It's poetry month, and I've got all my students digging deep to write poems about an emotional moment. It could be any emotion, whether happy, sad, angry, scared, nervous, etc. All I asked was that it be true, and they describe how their bodies felt when they had the emotion. Some of them are struggling with that concept, or with the concept of turning a story into a poem.
On the other hand, some of them are getting it, getting it in a way that takes my breath away. Literally. I get all...what's the Yiddish word...verklempt. The kids tease me about it, but they beam with pride when I get so excited. One girl really struggles in my class, but she wrote an amazing poem about her father dying. She had a strong understanding of what words could be omitted and how to break the lines to make it poetic. She also did a great job of explaining how her emotions felt: "I began to shake// like I was freezing.// My mother held me// like she was trying to make me warm." When I told her she got an A on the project (actually, in New York it's by number, so she got a 4), her jaw dropped in disbelief. "Really? A four, Ms. K?" Then she asked me again at the end of the period, perhaps afraid I would change my mind. I don't think she'd ever gotten a top grade in language arts before. I know she never has with me. I'm so proud! And she's just one example.
Eighth period, my students were kind of rowdy. One girl, nicknamed Bzanka, has been driving me nuts lately. Instead of doing her work, she kept leaning back in her chair and distracting the kids behind her. I warned her to stop. Later in the class, she fell and before I could help it, I cracked up. The kids have never heard me all-out laugh before, so that caused all of them to go crazy laughing. Bzanka was fine, and I apologized for laughing at her, still laughing until my eyes teared up. Not laughing at the silly things my students do (trying to derail my lessons) is part of the job discription, but it felt good to let down my strict facade for a moment.
During the extended day, I was talking to a student about her lateness. She replied that I'm late sometimes, too (which is regrettably true, though I have improved a lot) and that I run on "CPT-- Colored People Time." I admonished her that she shouldn't say racist things, not even against her own race. I added that it was a stereotype. I know lots of black people who are prompt and lots of white people who run late. "Nope," she replied. "It's like my aunt...Grandma says she'll arrive late to her own funeral. I think you're black, Ms. K." Then I realized what she was doing with her teasing.
"I'll take that as a compliment, Monae." Her face broke into a big smile. She was excited that I had recognized her teasing for the compliment it was. Then she gave me "pounds," a show of respect done by tapping her fist against mine.
That reminds me: I've added shaking hands with my students to our classroom routine. They have to shake my hand and tell me they're ready to be scholars before they come into my room. Class 705 used to run into my room, chasing each other. Now they stall for a little bit by refusing to shake hands, or by trying to give me pounds or jive-shakes (there's probably a better term, but I'm not cool enough to know what it is. I'll ask them tomorrow), but once they get in the room, they're more tranquil. Well, April's almost over. Just May and June to go! Wish me luck.