I was volunteering this afternoon in the Grade 5/6 class. What I most enjoy about teaching is the conversation, especially when it’s just me and one child. Had a few of those today.
Jayne loves having the students give Book Talks, the chance to share the author’s thoughts and the reviewer’s reactions with classmates. She asked me to visit kids and record the title of their next book, and to mark down what page they were on. Just two simple questions but I enjoyed the connection so much. From child to child to child … moments of eye contact and often the sharing of a book cover. Perfect.
Jayne talked about limericks, and how silly and fun this type of poetry can be. How wonderful that there’s a place in education for lightness and laughing. She had the kids read seven limericks and deduce from the examples what the principles of this poetic form were. Marvelous! Far better than listing “the rules of limericks” on the board.
One young man – “Trevor” – told me that the last words of lines 1 and 5 were always the same. As it turns out, that wasn’t quite accurate, but it certainly was a tendency of limericks. Later, Trevor left the room for awhile, just as the discussion of limerick rules was starting. I hadn’t noticed what Trevor had, and I could feel the urge to blurt out his idea without giving him credit for it. Happily, I squashed that plan and told the students about “Trevor’s insight”. And that felt so good, to acknowledge him, even in his absence.
Later I got to coach individual kids as they wrote their poems. A limerick has three “beats” in lines 1, 2 and 5, and two in lines 3 and 4. It was such a delicate process to sit with a child and have her see that “He decided to go to the moon” wouldn’t work for a line 3, while “He went to the moon” got the job done beautifully. We counted out the beats together and I loved it when the child felt the rhythm in her own poem. Those “ah hah” moments are joyous ones for any teacher.
I love being in that class. Being next to the energy of young minds and hearts is the best. Hearing from a girl how sad she was that some people and animals have become sick due to cropdusting … is a blessing. May we all grow in compassion and insight. And may those 10-, 11- and 12-year-olds turn into adults who express their highest values long after I’m gone from the planet.