Special Guest Stars

Last week was a busy one at school. I had the pleasure of hosting two of my best and dearest in my classrooms: Wayfarer came to visit and observe on Monday, and Kizz came to teach and observe on Thursday.

Wayfarer teaches at a charter school in a neighboring state and was interested in not only coming to see me do my thing, but also to see whether public education had made any significant changes since he’d left. He didn’t seem too surprised to find out that it hasn’t. Anyway, he left me with a lot of great notes, asked some really significant questions about how I might want to set up the environment of my own classroom (when I have a classroom of my own) and we had another lengthy discussion about whether or not it’s appropriate for kids to refer to their instructors as Mr. This or Mrs. That (Wayfarer is referred to by his first name – my kids call me Mrs. Chili). I’m hoping to go to see his classroom in the next few weeks.

Kizz came on Thursday, and I’m so glad she did. She’s in the neighborhood performing her Susanna Shakespeare show, and I invited her to come to my second period freshman class to introduce them to the Bard and to do a few exercises to teach them how to approach reading
Shakespeare so that their heads won’t explode (a few examples: read with a dictionary handy; read with the punctuation, not the line breaks; remove parenthetical clauses; try to find the subject and predicate in a sentence) All that is stuff that I teach when I teach poetry, but her comfort level and depth of knowledge of Shakespeare gave her an ease with the material that really came through with the kids. She was wonderful and engaging and we had a fantastic time. I plan to encourage her to offer, as part of her repertoire, a workshop in reading Shakespeare to be delivered in a classroom – once teachers see what she does, I’m sure she’d be in great demand.

When her class was over, she came to watch my fourth period freshmen work with the Bak paintings. I haven’t talked to her yet about what she thought of the whole thing, but you already know what I thought of the class. I’m hoping my enthusaism was obvious to her.

This afternoon, I’m heading off to watch Kizz deliver her show to a nursing home. I’ll take pictures and, with her permission, I’ll post them here. Watch this space.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Special Guest Stars

  1. It was really great to see you do your thing!

    It is true that I was not surprised to see that mainstream public education is as it was some 4 years ago, it was refreshing to see two important things:

    First, students in high schools everywhere, public, private, traditional or alternative, are the same degree of strange. Different flavors, perhaps, but just as likely to make one of my eyebrows raise.

    Second, there is an infinite variety of ways in which great learning takes place, and all these weird teenagers we see everyday–every single one of them–are capable of amazing things. The good teachers, including Mrs. Chili, bring that out, and do so beautifully.

    There are a lot of differences between my world and yours, Mrs. Chili, but there are a lot of similarities, too. I hope we get to keep talking about that when you come to see my place for yourself.

  2. I had great fun and plan to write about it, too, when (if?) I get settled again.

    Please go ahead and post any pics you like. Will you also e-mail the ones you took in the classroom to me? I’ll return the favor with the nursing home pics. Thanks for taking those.

    I had always planned to have a workshop component available with the show but I needed to be able to try it out in the classroom and talk it out with a teacher in order to get the ball rolling. Thanks for giving me that. Now I just have to figure out how to mother humping market the thing.

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