It was a somber morning at my school, as I’m sure it was at others, too. During our PLC meeting we talked about what we’d say in response to the shooting, and about how all our families- like students’ families- desperately want to hold us close every time this happens. I said (and also wrote on Twitter just a bit ago) that I feel for my mom and dad, who weren’t prepared to worry about their teacher daughter as much as their soldier son. It was good to have a bit of time to talk about that.
And then we went and faced our students.
I had one boy in class who was really upset, which I was expecting. He expressed it by slamming everything he could (my door, a laptop, his binder, etc…) and calling it trash. I did my best to be totally calm in response, and that seemed to help deescalate him, but he did end up calling his mom to dismiss him. And, hey, if that’s what he needs, that’s what he needs.
Meantime, class went on, as it must.
I was trying out a new lesson using ProCon. I had students get in groups of their choosing (4 people max). Each group had to go on the site and take notes about a particular issue in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. After they did that, I regrouped them so each student in a group had notes about a different issue. They shared what they’d learned, and then I took the last five minutes of class to sum it up and link it to the next lesson, which will come after a week of vacation (stay tuned, kids…)
I think it went well in both my classes, but it went REALLY well in my Block 3 class. They actually had bigger discussions than I’d expected them to have when they were sharing what they’d learned; they started talking about possible solutions to the issues, and voicing their own opinions about the conflict, and I just listened in gleefully. My Block 4 class wasn’t there yet, but that’s okay… Emphasis on the yet.
The best part of my day was Block 5. That’s my prep time, but today I spent it in Mr. I’s Holocaust & Genocide Studies class because he had a guest lecturer: Tom White from Keene State’s Cohen Center. And, longer ago than I care to admit, Mr. White was my AP Euro teacher. More than that, he was the best teacher I ever had.
He’s the reason I became a social studies teacher.
And, man, sitting in class while he taught was incredible. It took me back to all the mornings I spent in AP Euro- first block every other day of my senior year- and it reminded me how GOOD he is. It’s not easy to hold a class’ attention for 80 minutes, but Mr. I’s students were as spellbound and inspired by him as my classmates and I always were.
One of them, who was in World with me two years ago, told me she could tell I’d learned how to teach from him, which is the best compliment I’ve ever gotten. I’m not as good as he is, but I aspire to be that good. And so much of what I do as a teacher is me mimicking him… even more than I’m generally aware, I think.
It was awesome to see him, and to walk him to the doors of MY school- where I am because of him- after the bell. And awesome, too, to end a somber day with joy.