Saturday, July 19, 2008

Two weeks left

There are only two more weeks of summer school remaining. Not even that. 9 days? 8 days, depending on whom you ask.

As I sent the class home with the reading for the weekend, I really feel like most people are keeping up with the reading better than the first book, but I'm trying to figure out why. Maybe people didn't think we'd really go through a book in two weeks the first time and threw in the towel? Maybe the plot in Kite Runner is more seductive? Maybe it's just more current? I think I'm going to poll the class on the last day and see which book they liked better and why. And on that note, of all books they've read for school, which books have they liked and why. It's a great feeling to look around the room and have everyone intently reading and enjoying it. I'm hoping some of them leave the summer with a new appreciation for reading. Optimistic, I know.

On a non-school related note, I'm pretty sure that Poor But Sexy is my new favorite DC band. The studio songs are good, but the live experience is a must see. Yeah, I'm biased, I've played with 4 out of 5 in the band, but it's so nice to see someone break away from the familiar sounds that you find in indie rock. Someone described them as Steely Dan fronted by R. Kelly. That's about right, assuming R. Kelly was white and spoke German.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Socratic Seminar Success

Success. I gave my brief speech about respect and sensitivity when talking about rape, and told them if they wanted to address Assef possibly being homosexual that they needed to also be respectful. After that, we launched into some questions and the class just took over from there. I mainly stood back and played ref.

They seemed to figure out that what Assef did was mainly a power issue and trying to disrespect Hassan in the harshest way possible. Some students thought that maybe part of it was that Assef was trying to explore his sexuality in addition to hurting Hassan, which led the discussion to some interesting places, but still stayed within bounds. I'm intrigued as to what they'll think when they get towards the end of the book.

On the question of "Do you feel sorry for Amir?" it was interesting to get various takes from sympathy to outrage. One kid said the more he read the book the angrier he got at the protagonist. Others said that we all have mistakes in life that we wish we could take back, this is just a big mistake that he regrets.

We'll do it again next week, hopefully it goes as well. 2nd period needed more prodding, and there wasn't much debate. Sometimes it's all about room chemistry.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Kite Runner

We started teaching the Kite Runner on Monday as our second book of the summer. I should clarify since I'm teaching juniors and seniors, this is the junior / Lit class.

For the students who are keeping up with the reading, it seems like they're getting sucked into the book like I was when I first read it. I don't remember the year, but I was on tour in Japan and brought this as my travel read. I started it one night in the hotel and was up way too late. By the next day I was hooked, and whenever we had downtime, I snuck off to eat alone and keep reading. I knocked it off in about two days, which is fast considering I'm a slow reader (for an English teacher.) I'm hoping some kids hit that point this weekend.

Tomorrow is where it gets interesting though. Tonight's reading covers the rape scene in chapter 6, and tomorrow we have a Socratic Seminar covering the book so far. I'm a little worried, as many of these students can be homophobic and might miss the point that Assef wasn't raping Hassan for sexual reasons. For those that haven't done SS before, the idea is that the teacher launches a question and then steps back and lets the class discuss and ask their own questions.

Tough scene, we'll see if that makes for a tough class.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Teacher to Teacher

It's been awhile since I posted, eh? I'm teaching two three-hour classes in summer school, taking the most intensive grad class yet, working on the grad portfolio, taking home buying classes and looking for work for the fall. In summary - I'm owned.

Oh, right, band practice. It ran late tonight, and my motorcycle is still dead, so I'm waiting for the 52 to come. After a few minutes I get restless and start walking south in the bike lane, looking back for the bus. A few blocks into it, I pass three guys who say something to me, and when I keep walking they start jawing about me ignoring them. The next time I look back for the bus, I see they've turned around and are following me. I'm in the street, and pretty sure they won't do anything, but still aware that there's a reason they turned around. Suddenly a truck pulls up and a guy in his 50s says "hey man, I'm not trying to hustle you or nothin', but I was dropping a friend off and heard those kids yelling at you. When I turned around, I saw they were following you and took their shirts off. Lemme give you a ride to a bus stop further down."

For a millisecond the thoughts of not getting in cars with strangers registered, but without pause, I opened the door and hopped in. We started talking about the situation and I mentioned it being summer and kids being bored without school, and he tells me that he's a high school teacher at Coolidge. Wow. I'm not sure if it takes a teacher to pick up a stranger that you think will get jumped, or if a teacher puts off some sort of vibe that they care that makes you not think twice about trusting them, hell, I don't know what to think - for all I know, those kids were just bored and wanted to follow me for something to do. Either way, I'm really glad that someone was aware of what was going on, made the effort to help a stranger out, and got me somewhere far away.

Turns out we have mutual friends in the teaching world. Coincidence? maybe....