Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Heading to Two of My Favorite Years of Schooling Today: 5th and 6th Grade in West Haven. @cwpfairfield

One of the best parts of my job is that 1/3rd of the work I do is out in K-12 schools. Two years ago I was dedicated to high school, then last year I delved into K-8, and this year I've been hired to work with 5th and 6th grade teachers.

5th grade. Seriously? 

It was my favorite year of all schooling because I had a fantastic teacher named Mr. Finster. Not only did Mr. Finster have a multiplication torture chamber in which he came at us in his electronic wheelchair spitting out numbers: "5x4, 10x9, 7x8, 2x4," etc., but he also offered one of the only glimpses of creative writing I ever had in my pre-college experience. Every Monday he wrote a prompt on the board and by Friday he wanted us to tap our minds and turn in a substantial piece of writing for him to read.  I loved learning in his room because the expectations were high, but he was with his learners every step of the way (well, wheel of the way - he had multiple sclerosis). He was also obsessed with Roald Dahl and his wife, Patricia Neal, and often shared with us his love letters to he wrote to the movie star, about how he was going to win her heart and and make her leave ol' Roald to his chocolate factories. His eccentricities were remarkable.

6th grade was also a favorite year of mine, probably because we started rotating classes and there was a sudden plunge in the mischief kids caused in school. Biologically, we were all over the place. Puberty hit some and didn't even start for others. I remember being dropped off at Penn Can mall one time to meet with classmates and my mom remarking, "I'm not leaving you with these kids. They look like they're in high school." I wanted her to leave me with them because they were the bad #$$es of my class.

The task I'm assigned today is to begin a conversation of teachers writing with students in a variety of the ways expected of them from the Common Core State Standards. The sessions are short, so I can only initiate a dialogue, but I'm looking forward to learning from teachers on what is working and not working in these grade levels.

It was a time of Little League for me: wiffleballs and plastic bats, football on Duncowing Avenue, tremendous gaps in my teeth, and bowl cuts. It was also the year of my first crush, but it was Peter Boy Caroli who, a year ahead of me, actually picked her out when he saw class pictures. Of course, then, crushes were only pointing at photos of the girls we thought were cute (read Rudolph here when he loses his red nose).

Have to keep this short, however, because the students at the school wrote me letters about what they think of writing and I need to peruse them before I make the trip.

Writing today, writing tomorrow, and writing everyday.

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