The Con Artist

This year has been one of many trials and tribulations. There have been times when I don’t know if I’m going to make it, and other times that I just want to cross my arms, give up, and pout. But I know that if I don’t go through that, then the cool things won’t be as cool. 

Monday morning was our first day back from our Spring Break. Our tutoring time has basically turned into TAKS prep time for our homeroom students. This is a waste of time for my homeroom because they’re the Pre-AP bunch that has consistently done well on the exams. I’ve grown tired of bucking the system on this, so I’ve given in for the time being. Anyway, that morning, one of my students walks in and asks where she can put a tri-fold poster board. Even though my class is cluttered and overrun with student desks, my kids always ask me to hold stuff because I’m one of the few that will, I’m on the way out of the building, and I’m always there after school. So I didn’t think much of it. Later, curiosity got the best of me, so I opened up the tri-fold poster board.

Upon opening, I discovered Shakespeare information. This kid had gone home during the break and on her own, looked up more information, and put together this poster board and made it look “preeety.” I was shocked and honored. See, before the break, my students had done some research on Shakespeare’s life and times. Then we’d read some adaptations of King Lear, Twelfth Night, and Othello. The kids had really gotten into it. They were upset when the bell rang on Friday before we left for Spring Break because “it was just getting good!” 

We finally finished reading Othello yesterday. We had such cool conversations about who was the real villain, what the characters could have done differently, what kind of injustices exist in our times and how they are similar to Shakespeare’s.

I shared this with the people at my training today, and one lady couldn’t believe I had gotten 7th graders so interested in Shakespeare. Then, when she thought I wasn’t hearing, she dismissed the idea of teaching this because she “woudn’t want to step on any toes,” meaning that Shakespeare should be reserved for high school. Well, that’s her opinion. In the meantime, I will continue conning my kids into learning things they might otherwise hate because someone may not take the time to draw them in.


Joel said...

I love reading your teaching stories and am always left feeling that your kids are really lucky to have a teacher that was so clearly meant to be a teacher... but then there are always the comments of some of your lesser colleagues that come close to canceling out the optimism you make me feel... but regardless, i really do enjoy these posts and at the end of the day I appreciate the honesty and wouldn't want you to sugarcoat anything.

MsAbcMom said...

Thanks for sharing. I have been so down in the dumps with teaching this year becuase we are all but forbidden to teach anything fun and meaningful. It is just test prep after test prep and no teaching time at all! How lucky your students are to have you!

btw...just finished Naomi Leon and loved it! Can't wait to discuss it with the girls!

La Brown Girl said...

Joel-Thanks! I sometimes hesitate to write about school because I see the faces and off in la-la land looks from some people when I talk about it. Some people think I've let work overrun my life. I'm just passionate about it. It is my hope that my enthusiasm can be even a little bit contagious.

MsAbcMom-I hear you about the test prep! It's crayh-zee! I love how they say, "we don't teach to the test," and then, they turn around and implement programs aimed at the test. I always think of that scene in Matilda where the teacher and the kids have to hide all the pretty stuff.

I'm glad you enjoyed Naomi Leon! I knew you would like it. I hope Sabi liked it, too!

Joel said...

I only wish I had a job I was passionate about! Overrun your life? If it's something you love then I don't see that as a bad thing.

Chanclita Divina said...

you teaching your kids shakespeare reminds me of my 8th grade teacher deciding to teach the top math level kids algebra. back then you didn't have a class like that in my elementary school until you got to high school. keep doing what you are doing.