I love reading. I love words. I love the worlds created in my brain from images emanating out of words. That’s why I became an English teacher.
What a perfect job for me! I spent my career promoting books, themes, poetry, writing, thinking about literature—it’s such a complex and beautiful compulsion that I could, but won’t, go on and on and on.
I retired three years ago and now revel in my free time to do all that I love: reading, writing, talking about literature, and gardening (which actually has nothing to do with reading). For me, this is fantastic, although I came to a point this fall where I decided I wanted to connect again with kids and young adults.
I began substituting. Once or twice a week, I get to spend time back in the classroom—and I’m loving it.
One evening the phone rang with a request to substitute for a middle school learning resource room teacher. Ummmm… I taught high school students for twenty-six years, no middle school kids were ever part of my classroom teaching experience. I almost declined the job offer but pulled back a bit and thought,
“Wait a minute! What a snob I’m being. I’ve worked with so many students with reading and writing difficulties, with second language students and students who flat out don’t like English class. I’ve taught college prep classes too. I can do this!”
When I came into the classroom the next day, I was surprised that there were only six sixth grade boys. The “regular” teacher was there to greet me. When she discovered my background and experience she told me what reading she wanted done and suggested that I come up with my own writing prompts for the boys.
To my surprise, I had a great time with these boys, especially when it came to writing.
I had a couple of good ideas—or what I thought were good ideas—for prompts. Six sets of eyes stared back at me, none with with an inkling of inspiration. One boy took pity on me and signaled to me. When I leaned down to talk to him, he whispered to me his idea for a prompt,
“Tell them they’re trapped in the desert, the sun’s sizzling and they look up and see a sand dune that’s made of ice cream.”