July 8, 2011
Stress is the fuel of creativity. Either that, or an ulcer.
My personal stress has been compounded by teaching a class of twenty or so middle school stud4ents how to write and think like writers. The first day, as I made painfully aware, involved trying to wrangle some unruly ragamuffins.
I let them know exactly what they were thinking and even got one to shut up about games “being for people with no lives.”
I met my fiancée through Dungeons and Dragons. Natch.
Then, today, I had the biggest shock of my teaching life. One of two kids I had to take aside the first day walked up to me. The class thus far consisted of teaching the parts f speech (nouns, verbs, conjunctions, etc.) and the parts of a sentence (subject, verb, object) and today’s class involved watching a very wholesome episode of Bizarre Foods.
It was Puerto Rico.
A very fine episode, to be sure, and I had previously gone over the parts of the paragraph I wanted them to write go through. I wanted a topic sentence, evidence for why they liked or disliked the show, and an explanation. For example, if they thought it was good, I wanted something like “The show was funny because Andrew was scared when he had to dive into the dark cave. It was wet and he was freaking out.”
Most of them did well. A few of them were still sketchy on the concept of “evidence” and the grammar could have used some work.
Except for one kid.
The first day, I help him back to talk with him. He talks, he looks around, and he barely pays attention. And he got it in one try. I didn’t have to tell him to change anything. He did everything I asked and he barely tried. I could tell form the way he looked at me that he was sure he’d made a mistake.
It’s always a joy to see students realize they’re smarter than they thought.
Now I have a conundrum. It’s not that lesson is too easy. On the contrary. I’m pushing these kids as far as they’ll go. I’m teaching them like I would a high school or freshman college class. I’m not a behavioral expert. Best guess, the kid may have ADD. It wouldn’t be far-fetched, but it’s not definite. The other option is that he really does know all this stuff, but doesn’t understand he knows it and is just bored.
Either way, I don’t know if I can keep his attention without sacrificing the teaching time for the rest of the class.
I guess the only thing I can do is to try and dial it up just a bit, maybe give him extra work on the side…
And you know what? I’m excited if I get to teach him and help him improve. I’m making him my personal challenge.