(note….this post is continued in the next…)
This Monday will NOT be the most difficult Monday that I have ever taught. Truthfully, there are things that have weighed more heavily on my heart as I faced my students. Cancer, divorce, my own children’s physical and emotional well-being, colleagues in crisis, friends who are suffering unimaginable losses, etc. There are enough issues in my own students’ lives to cause me heartache; this issue of teacher degradation is just an add-on. As seriously as I take this political, social and economic blunder, on a smaller scale, in my own world, larger issues have prevailed.
My goal, as it is most school days, is to put those heavier issues aside in my own heart, in favor of interacting on a meaningful level with my students in Spanish. We’ll use sentence frames, tweets and music to find the language to talk about what is on their minds. My hope, as unrealistic as it may sound, is that learning to interact on a human level with other human beings will help all of us to rise above the challenges life brings.
Possible topics for discussion on Monday:
How was vacation and where did everyone go? Is it more stressful or less stressful to be back at school?
How is the world reacting to the news about the Germanwings pilot deliberately downing the plane and its passengers? How are we reacting?
How important are the upcoming junior prom and senior ball? How important is it to have a date? How important is it to spend a great deal of money on the event?
How can we help a local family struggling to deal with the loss of two parents in four months?
Who has a job right now? Who would like one? Who has started to apply for a summer job? Where and why?
Who has a birthday in April? What gifts are they hoping for? How will it be celebrated? What new responsibilities and expectations come with this birthday?
And yes….someone will bring up the new legislation about teaching. And it won’t be me. But we are a small community and many, many students are the children, cousins, neighbors of teachers. The district is one of the largest employers in the area. A very large percentage of our students go on to become teachers and we have a staggering number of graduates employed as teachers in the district. I can think of 15 of my former students who are now my colleagues and I know that there are more. In a district that is only graduating 100 students per year.
We won’t talk about it in class. That is not what I was hired to do. I will tell them that it is heartbreaking for me and for my colleagues and that many of us are involved socially and politically to change it.
And then we will get back to joy of exploring life using an incredibly beautiful and powerful language. I’ll do my best not to think about the changes happening in education that would make Monday’s lesson not only improbable in a year or two, but impossible.