Most days my sixth-period kids drive me crazy. Not bad crazy. No, more of a I-haven’t-the-strength crazy. And while I am uncertain if it’s the dynamic of kids, or my diminished end-of-the-day energy, they are my most energetic, talkative, can’t-find-a-focus group, especially this semester. Consequently, sixth period is generally a half-a-day behind my other classes. And despite, my daily vows to get us caught up, we never do, and it makes me crazy. Of late, I’ve begun to accept that it is what it is, and I no longer fight it as fervently as I once did. I’ve begun to falter, to weaken, and after the last two days, I surrendered. The kids win. Maybe I am not qualified to teach a classroom management course at Eastern, after all. But before I throw in the towel, let me explain. I said I surrendered; I didn’t say I lost.
So, something unexpected happened, something I did not anticipate from my sixth-period stinkers. By now, we have made our way through the book, Night. As we made our way, we stopped after every three segments and discussed what we had read. Nothing profound here, classes discuss text all the time. And, as I did, other teachers even give kids prompts and opportunities to lead the discussion. Still, nothing groundbreaking. Overall, I was very pleased with all of my classes and their contributions to a deep and lively discussion; even my–at times–severely shy third-period class engaged in great discussion, but none of my other classes came close to my sixth-period–my can’t-stop-talking-for-a second, bouncing-off-the-walls wild things.
For two solid periods, last Friday and yesterday, they engaged in perhaps the best class discussions I have witnessed in my twenty years. And it’s not just that they talked, for that is never a problem, but they listened–they LISTENED! So, too, they respectfully asked questions, built off others’ points, and used each other’s names as they moved the discussion forward and deeper with each passing minute. Of course, I participated and moderated to some degree, but I didn’t have to. I thought Friday was a fluke. How could sixth period pull this off? But yesterday, they did it again. And I, inspired by their feat, let them know how much I appreciated them, and that, in the end, my worst talkers were, in fact, my best talkers. So, we shared a laugh. They, too, I believe were surprised by their performances. But, the honeymoon, won’t last long, and we’ll get back to being an old, married couple soon enough, vying for position in our daily dance in the last hour of our day. But from here on, I believe I will lead less, and follow more. Ah, the beauty of letting go. Crazy.
Happy March, all. May you find some unexpected beautiful craziness in your day.