Saturday, April 19, 2014

My Big "As"

My first teacher story has to be my “Big As” story. 

In the days before the Promethean Board, I was using the whiteboard with dry erase markers.  On this particularly wonderful day in the world of education, I was teaching analogies.  I was requiring the class to take notes as I filled their minds with knowledge of …….


A comparison between two things, typically on the basis of their structure and for the purpose of explanation or clarification.

Students only desire words in multiple choice formatA.B.C. or D. and they will roll the dice in their crap-shoot of testing and hope for the best. 

        “Just give us the multiple choice test and let’s move on!!!”

I, however, would not stop until they understood that the key to understanding analogies was to “develop a sentence showing the relationship of the two words on the left” and apply that relationship to the right side of the analogy.  At this point, do you hear Charlie Brown’s teacher’s voice droning on and on and on and on????

Anyhooo……. On the board, I’m drawing the possible ways in which they will see analogies, such as.

dog : puppy ::  cat : _______

Simple…….until  they say something like “squirrel” - keep in mind this is seventh grade!!!!!!

Then I show……

__dog           cat__
                                        puppy     AS     ?   

Another common format of analogies.  I’m attempting to use more challenging vocabulary words - trying to get them to grasp the importance of the’s all about the relationship. you must understand the relationship……blah, blah, blah, blah.  I have my cheat-sheet of vocabulary words - challenging words!!!  Not just dog to puppy As cat to kitten!!!!!  Too easy!!!!!  But they weren’t doing what I wanted!!!!  I wanted them to come up with the word on THEIR OWN!!!!  Not from a choice of words!!!!  Come on, kids, work that brain!!!!!!  You can reach deep and come up with the word “Melancholy” can’t you???????

This whole time, the students are furiously taking notes, burying their heads over their papers, praying to the classroom gods that I won’t call on them because they can tell I’m feeling a little frustrated.  I’m leaving the……

 _________           ____________

on the board and simply filling in the words. 

Me:  Fill in the left side, start the right side, wait for a response, hear the word “squirrel” again, furiously erase, start over.

Them:  Copy, copy, copy, pray to classroom god, copy, copy, copy

Me:  Feeling frustraed, begin to write words LARGER on the board because they will certainly get it with bigger words, right?
Enter stage back-of-the-room:  Robert (names have been changed to protect the innocent)  He was left-handed.  He hated language arts - Surprise!!!  A boy hating language arts!!!!    He does seem to like me somewhat, so he is furiously copying anything and everything I write on the board.  The only sounds in the room are the sounds of pencils scratching paper, dry-erase marker making larger words, my voice saying “Something is to something AS something is to something!!”  when suddenly Robert states “Boy, Mrs. Jennings, your “As” sure is getting bigger!!”  Picture this…… he never looks up from copying.  He never stops taking notes.  He is simply AND INNOCENTLY making an observation in reference to my frustration. 

My black Expo marker stops in mid-air.  The hairs on the back of my neck are standing up.  The students stop breathing.  The angels in heaven stop singing praises.  The clock stops ticking.  There is ABSOLUTELY NO SOUND in that room as I turn slowly to look at Precious.  His head is still down.  He is still taking notes when he notices and most certainly feels the stares of everyone in that room.  He looks up, looks to his left, looks to his right, then looks at me………….
There are no words to describe the moment when he puts 2 and 2 together and gets the correct answer of 4!!!!  The moment of recognition that he just told his teacher her “AS IS GETTING BIGGER!!!”  The moment when he sees his life flash before his eyes.  The moment when he literally SCREAMS in horror.  That scream that came from his wide-open mouth forever changed me. 

Robert lived to see another day.  I loved him all the way to the end of 7th grade.  I realized the importance of having a FUN TIME IN CLASS - not to take it so serious!!!  Thank you, Robert, for making my classroom a place where we all can have fun - even on my bad days as my “As is getting bigger!”  

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