The Literary Salons were a great success. Several administrators and teachers stopped in and gave their support. The highlight truly for all was when one 7th grader, a boy from Ghana who has been so shy he never spoke, read his own work. The audience remained silent and then broke into spontaneous applause. There can be some tremendous moments in teaching. The head of school collected the students’ work to include some in the yearbook.
On Wednesday, Veteran’s Day, a guest speaker, who’s served two tours in Afghanistan, addressed the entire school for about 45 minutes. He started off saying he’d answer questions except the questions “Had he ever killed anyone?” and “Did he bring his gun?” (He did not, though of course, both those questions were what the kids wanted to know.) He’s now with the military police and shared what he looks for when hiring new recruits for his job now with the military police. I took notes, thinking there might be a lesson to mine from his talk. He mentioned three things he values: a hard work ethic, breaking the rules as in being able to think outside the box, and giving back.
The assembly ended with the students giving him the school’s “Three Claps & a Stomp,” shaking the building’s foundation, and then a call and response routine that tells who they are, why they’re there, what they’re doing, etc. and frankly I think resembles military drills.
The second quarter began this week so I’m learning new names and faces. I had students select one of the values the vet presented and write how it relates to them. Many understood the hard work ethic and giving back, the breaking the rules/thinking outside the box stumped them. They are very literal in their thinking. Creative writing hopefully will expand their imaginations and at the same time give them some much needed writing skills. I brought to the administrator’s attention an article in last Sunday’s Star-Ledger about why Americans can’t write. There’s only so much I can teach in one quarter.