Dear English 10 Students,
Today was the second class I've had with you in the last 2 weeks - and I wasn't quite as intimidated this time. You have grown so tall and so beautiful/handsome since I knew you in third grade. Your energy level has escalated along with your size! Your hair is crazier - longer, shorter, spikier, more colorful, more casual - and you are definitely wired with technology. Your iPhones, your laptop computers, your iPods are all an integral part of you.
You still love to entertain your friends and the audience now is definitely your peers, not any of the adults who might be in the room. Some of you want to be funnier or louder or grosser than anyone else, no matter what the consequences. Others of you want to be less noticeable and prefer to blend in around the edges of the room. You all warily watch for authority, some of you edging close to that invisible line of 'okay or not'.
You go from a dull roar as you saunter into the classroom to a few minutes of chaos when you realize it's just a sub there. Then as most of you recognize me and some can recall my name, you settle in and listen as I outline the day's expectations. Amidst groans, you dig for the novel and some of you even manage to find it! Things settle down but of course three of you have to go to your lockers and search for your books. I'm reluctant to let you all leave the room at once - I know how the empty hallways will lure you into diversions. Then there are two of you with books at home - a convenient excuse to do nothing, you think. Luckily your very smart regular teacher has spare copies on her desk, just for you.
It's now 20 minutes in and finally everyone is relatively settled. Pages turn quietly, jacket clad (I didn't go down that road) shoulders hunch over and you ponder chapters 13 and 14. Some of you groan that To Kill A Mockingbird is too hard and too boring and too long. I think to myself that you have no connections to this book and why would you want to read it all on your own? I wonder if we are killing your love of reading with our curriculum and our questions and our expectations that you can read it by yourselves. I wonder how you would react if I read to you and we stopped and chatted and discussed and brought our own connections to the story. But on this day I'm not brave enough to break into your teacher's realm and take this risk. But I still wonder if perhaps that's what I should have done.
With ten minutes left, you look up to the clock and silently declare that this class is toast. It's block 7 on Friday afternoon - and the long weekend is beckoning. You have plans to make and dates to confirm and outfits to plan and places to go - and there's no holding you in the land of plot and character development. You slap the book shut, turn to your friends and the crescendo builds as the clock inches forward. You hardly can hear the bell but its vibrations shoot you right out of your desks and through the door, launched into the weekend.
I scan the room for your leftovers - wadded up looseleaf, the pieces of a broken pen, a binder left behind - and then I pull the door shut. You've survived another day in high school - and I feel the same way! But I also feel like I know you a little better, have a bit stronger connection to your world, am ready to pull the doors into your developing minds open a little further next time. There is so much I'd like to toss out for your consideration and so many challenges I'd like you to consider. I hope I will have more chances to be brave with you.
Have a safe weekend - and don't forget to finish reading to the end of chapter 14!
(and yes, C - my name is still Mrs. Krueger!)