Wednesday, December 09, 2009
Back in the World!
This fall I had another nasty bout of bronchitis that had me housebound for most of a month, except for the teaching that was required. I retreated from the world while I tried to heal my body. I left the computer up in my office and broke my Facebook addiction. I neglected my blog because I had no energy for creativity. I did manage to knit a great deal and am now well versed in the latest season of Project Runway and multiple reruns of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and The Supernanny. I also admit that Jo Frost has very helpful suggestions in communication and discipline!
The fall was a gentle incline towards the busy schedule I will be keeping for the rest of the 09-10 school year. I had three different teaching experiences that were primarily unrelated in material and focus. I taught a discussion seminar for the Honors Department at Syracuse University called "Reading the World," a course for the Downtown Writer's Center on contemporary and emerging African-American poets, and a residency with 4th graders in a Syracuse elementary school. It was a light schedule compared to my usual pace and I could manage to get through most of my instruction without coughing myself to death and without infecting anyone. The rest of the time, I was a slug in the house with little capacity to think, read, walk the stairs, little appetite. It was a mess. But my teaching was terrific because I love my work and the students, whether they were 10 or in their 20's, even 60's, always bring energy and enthusiasm to my life.
The 4th graders were so wonderful. We worked together to create autobiographical poems that showed the kids with light, humor, poignancy, and their best efforts to use language to their ability. The teachers were wonderful to work with as well, supporting my efforts while I was on site and completing the tasks from each successive lesson to have students ready upon my return each week.
Teachers have to make a lot of room for an artist such as myself to come into their classrooms. There are may needs and demands with the school calendar, expectations for learning, tests (the damned tests) and more tests, particularly in elementary school. I dearly appreciate that my work with their students not only creates work for them as well but that the routine is shaken to the core for whatever time my residency lasts. I also appreciate that the teachers with whom I work value what I bring to their students enough to take on all that it requires.
This week and next, I am working with 3rd and 4th graders. We are engaged in a terrific experience in which I have set up the premise that we are all participants in a living video game called "Poetry Detectives." They are totally on board and we are having a lot of fun.
And today I got to have the same moment of bliss that the entire school experienced: SNOW DAY announced. Back to sleep, an unexpected decadent day to myself to catch up on other work and gaze out the window at the expanse of new snow.