I was in despair yesterday. I felt confused and uncertain about what I was supposed to teach, I felt like I wasn't teaching well, I felt like the kids were disengaged and disinterested and that I wasn't differentiating and doing all I needed to do. And then after talking with some long-time vets I admire who said "I feel the same thing every day. But you just keep trying," I felt infinitely better today.
We read a story about an Irish girl and her family in steerage class crossing the Atlantic in the 1800s. I gave the kids vocabulary words from the story for a quiz next week, words like 'stagnant' and 'gangplank' and 'retch.' As soon as I told them what stagnant meant, Otay raised his hand. "Yo Mr. G, I got a new pack!" he said. When I asked what it was he said "them shoes be stagnant." "Your hairline be stagnant," Nimoy replied.
The seventh grade boys were silly as usual, but they were good today. I read the story with them and they made it all the way to the last page before they got restless. I let them get up and I made them all gather on the carpet at the front of the room. One of our vocabulary words was "jostle." I told them to make a crowd and I would attempt to "jostle" my way through to the other side. Their job was to stop me. After a 90-second war of me fighting my way through about 19 7th graders, Nimoy grabbed my shirt and then the Punisher helped him put me down. Then I had 21 kids pig pile me. I let about 3 other kids try to "jostle" through the crowd before I made the kids go back to their seats so we could finish the last page of the story.
I know that 100% of them will remember the definitions of "stagnant" and "jostle" at least.