So far this year, my first period class has been my least favorite; about 8 kids come late nearly every day, and wonder why they're not passing. There are a couple of kids that act out nearly every day in ways that just confound me - walking across the room in the middle of a lesson for no good reason, continuing mean under-the-breath comments, etc. I can always handle a kid who wants to do well but doesn't, but this class features a couple of kids that, so far, are almost totally unpleasant to be around. It was my only class with no A's.
Today, however, even they were wonderful. Focused, in their seats, and participating in the day's activity. And it was me, not them. I felt so zen today, a result of five days away and a well-planned lesson. We needed a fresh start from The Odyssey, which went on too long and ended with far too many days of group presentations. I started the Fences lesson with a series of poems about fences. Students tackled the literal and metaphorical meanings of fences, then we read "A Fence" by Carl Sandberg. Kids marked it up, discussed it, and wrote several paragraphs about it. All without complaining. All, even, with excitement. I sure was. Tomorrow, I've got Sylvia Plath's "Apprehensions" and Langston Hughes' "As I Grew Older", both of which prominently feature walls/fences, and both in wildly disparate ways.
On Thursday, I'll start getting them into the characters of Fences, hold class tryouts, and start getting ready to read this thing.
I needed the sick day because I was sick, but I also needed the sick day because I needed a fresh start. It worked. I'm even excited to get back there tomorrow.
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