Saturday, October 22, 2011

School Days

There seems to be so much going on lately.  So much that I haven't found a minute to write a blog.  I've actually been contemplating for a few weeks what to write.  Sure, we've hit a couple new places in the Seoul area - a ceramics festival that was amazing where three of us made pots on the wheel, and a Arts Village near the DMZ where Anna and I were fascinated by the hundreds of minerals on display at a museum, among other things.  But, I needed something else. 

What has REALLY been taking the majority of my energy lately is school.  Why? Well, here's the part where being an English teacher comes in.  Even with 65 students, I'm finding it difficult to get it all done.  As the end of the quarter neared I had 65 individual conferences to attend to, 32 papers in-class essays, then 32 analysis papers and finally 33 Multi-genre projects to grade (or as the Australians say, "mark"). 

I'd gotten through most of the essays by the time the Multi-genre projects came in.  But you know how it is - finish one thing just in time to get started on the next.  I'm ALMOST complaining.  Perhaps I even WOULD be complaining, if it weren't for the Multi-genre projects.  I have to thank my colleague Anthony for this idea.  I'd not heard of it before.  But it resonated with me because it sounded a lot like a portfolio (and you know how I love portfolios.)  

Students had been studying Romanticism in American Literature.  How to assess their understanding of Romanticism?  Well, allow them to BE a Romantic by exploring several genres all centered around a Romantic ideal (individuality, inner experience, inspiration from nature, imagination, innocence. . . )  Ask the students to find a way to make the project flow and tie it all together with a reflective and informative preface.  

I'd never done this before, so, you know. . . I was a bit. . . nervous.  Would they take it seriously?  Would they find their inner Romanticist?  Would they get anything out of it?  Would I have a bunch of thrown together crud or would I find brilliance?

Here's the part where I LOVE being an English teacher.

That's right.  I found brilliance.  The students have been imaginative, creative, innovative, honest, and soul searching.  They have discovered new things about themselves, looked inside in ways they hadn't before, began to notice innocence and nature all around them again.  They've reflected on family and relationships, society and the environment.  They've become poets and photographers, graphic artists and song writers, clever storytellers and contrite letter writers.  I'm so proud of my juniors!  Their job this year is to find their VOICES as writers and speakers.  And I just saw them take a big leap in that direction.  

I couldn't be prouder.

Now. . . back to work!