Kids are funny.
Not funny ha ha, funny strange.
Some kids are, shall we say, funnier than others.
One of my odd duck babies gave me pause recently.
My students were working on final projects for Romeo and Juliet.
They had to compose an opinion-based, textual evidence-supported, constructed response paragraph.
Three cited examples from the original play were required.
After that, for the other half of their grade, a sociogram was required.
If you have never seen sociograms, I suggest you explore the concept.
They are pretty simple to explain.
And they require incredibly sophisticated abstract thinking.
To construct one successfully, students have to understand a number of things:
-how to use symbolism
-how to characterize the various characters
-how characters relate to one another
-how to use space, size, and color to convey meaning
-how to explain all those other things.
My students completed a Sociogram for Of Mice and Men.
Romeo and Juliet, however, has 18 characters to the 10 or so in Of Mice and Men.
Not surprisingly, this is a difficult task for students.
I spend an inordinate amount of time helping students by asking questions.
I spend even more time reassuring students.
It drives them crazy when there is no right answer.
I adore it as visible thinking becomes the product.
One morning, a young man who wants desperately to do well, but who marches to the beat of a drum no one else can hear, was working diligently.
He was sitting with a rather rambunctious group of friends.
Most of them had, FINALLY, settled down to work as well.
For the first time all hour, the room was quiet.
Not like dead silence, like you can hear the wheels turning quiet.
It is a quiet I like.
Into this quiet, apropos of nothing, I heard
"This is the class I learn anything!"
I mean, wow.
I had to take a second to figure out how to respond.
Then I looked up from my computer and retorted,
"That is both sad and upsetting, and really really flattering. I don't really know how to respond."
I don't I expected, but it wasn't this:
"Ok!" with a big grin and return to work.
So that happened.
Then it was over and nary a word exchanged the rest of the hour.
I kept an eye on him and he seemed totally unfazed.
He also got a lot done.
It really does break my heart to think he feels the rest of his day is so bleak.
That sort of boredom, the kind the comes from everything being easy, is what drove me to drop out so many years ago.
Of all the pains that come with high school, I probably feel this one most acutely.
Yet there is hope.
I love love love it that he is learning from my class, from me.
I adore that he knows it is happening.
It is extremely satisfying to know his day is a total learning desert.
I choose to focus on that.
The thing I can control (sort of, anyway): the learning I can evoke and support.
I can't quite say this made my day.
It is too tinged with sadness.
It did stroke my ego pretty good though.
He should have more, so much more.
My class is, I am, not enough.
For now though, its a start.
It is a good thing.