Friday, April 27, 2012

Growth and Decay

Let's talk about decay first, shall we?  More specifically, the steady decay of the English language.  I know that it's basically a goner because of how children choose to compliment each other/their elders these days.

I recently bought some new running shoes.  (The old ones were circa 2009.  Don't judge.)

They're cool, and I know this because my high schoolers told me so.

In as many words.

As best they could.

"Hey Miss, I like yo' kicks."  (Usually I don't respond to "Miss", which is the name for every female teacher according to every student in the school.  But I'll make an exception for 'compliments'.)

"Hey Miss, those shoes go hard."  You might be saying to yourself, "She's exaggerating.  Kids don't really talk like this."

Oh, how I wish you could come and sit in my room and observe the specimen in their natural environment.

More decay:  every tree on our property.  Remember when a tree fell victim to a thunderstorm and hit Koby's truck?  

Well, this is basically the same situation, except that it was the tree next to the last one, it was alive and not dead (green wood, leaves sprouted every where), and it fell over because of ???? at about 4:15 on a windless afternoon.  So really not the same situation at all except that we ended up with another 100+ lbs. of unusable firewood in our front yard.   Awesome.  I feel really safe carrying an infant to the car in a front yard filled with inexplicably suicidal trees.

I felt like this really needed a picture.  You're welcome.

As far as growth, I'm seeing major growth in some of my students because of a simple project they've been working on for less than a week.  (I tweeted about it awhile ago.)  I got the idea from The Memory Project, which is a program that matches advanced art students with a portrait of an orphan in a needy country somewhere in the world.  The art students create a likeness for a child who is likely lacking any items of sentimental value.  Intriguing?  Inspiring?  Right?  Only problem?  It costs $15 per student and I work at a Title I school, where $15 is probably necessary lunch money, electric bill money, food money, or nonexistent.  We could spend time writing letters for support to various philanthropists, clubs, etc... or!  I though, OR, we have a large orphanage in operation just an hour away, why don't I contact them and propose that we arrange something similar? 

It would be unfair to say that today's children aren't being taught the value of compassion and generosity, but it would be accurate to say that their absence has alarmed me since becoming a teacher.  I'm not saying all of my kids don't care about anyone but themselves because that's not true, but sometimes their actions and words startle me into thinking that they could have benefitted from a few more lessons on virtues in the kindergarten.  And so this project became sort of a vehicle for a lesson on compassion straight outta James 1:27.

And thus seven of my advanced students are working on portraits for orphans they don't know.  They were super hesitant, skeptical, and whiney at first, but they're growing.  What was an attitude of "this-is-going-to-take-forever-and-I'm-going-to-suck-at-it-and-why-are-we--even-doing-this-I-don't-want-to"has now become class periods where I am followed around by students constantly asking me "How do I do this?" or "Is this right?" or "What can I fix?" because they want the portrait of their chosen child to be just right.  And I have this sneaking feeling it's not just because they want a good grade.  One girl became angry with a boy in class and refused to talk to him for the rest of the period because he made a comment about her orphan's picture.  (In his defense, it wasn't even really rude, more of a "Who is that and why are you drawing him?" thing.)  But she furiously said "THIS IS MY ORPHAN DON'T YOU SAY ANYTHING ABOUT HIM!" and my heart swelled.  Check our Art Department website in a few weeks and I'll have posted the finished projects.

Other growth?  Knox is a crawling machine, pulling up on things (like rocking chairs - hello, heart attack with time to take pictures) and saying "MAMA".  A few days ago he looked up right at me and said those two beautiful syllables.  Do I think he knows the association?  I don't know, but I picked him up and we had an enthusiastic "Mama", "Mama" conversation.  He also says it when he's being fed or played with, so at least he's connecting it with things he loves.

Strong boy!  What about you, what flourished or failed during your week?

life rearranged