Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Student to Teacher

I taught one of my favorite lessons today, and was reminded of how exciting it is to take children to the next level. The lesson was part vocabulary, part poetry, part metaphor, part Black History Month, part "this is your teacher telling you she wants you to keep trying".

We read this poem together. I choked up on the first read, as I always do. Hughes does that to me. We then read it in parts, we role-played, we talked about message and meaning, and the poet's use of the vernacular.

No, I don't teach high school English. I teach 4th grade English Language Learners.

"Did you like this poem?" I asked as the bell rang for lunch.

"Oh YES Miss! That's how my mom talks to me!"

"Now THAT's some good advice he gave in the poem."

"I LOVE how you read that Miss!"

"Can I keep the paper Miss? Can I memorize it?"

"Let's do another one tomorrow Miss!"

Mother to Son, by Langston Hughes (1902 - 1967)

Well, son, I'll tell you:
Life for me ain't been no crystal stair.
It's had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor --
But all the time
I'se been a-climbin' on,
And reachin' landin's,
And turnin' corners,
And sometimes goin' in the dark
Where there ain't been no light.
So boy, don't you turn back.
Don't you set down on the steps
'Cause you finds it's kinder hard.
Don't you fall now --
For I'se still goin', honey,
I'se still climbin',
And life for me ain't been no crystal stair.


efunkamericana said...

excellent poem. it touches a raw spot for me, a first generation immigrant who saw my parents struggle and never give up despite their shortcomings. wonderful work you are doing with the wee ones.

Marianne said...

Hola Cassy, just wanted to thank you for allowing me to be a part of this class...the poem was very touching..la reaccion de tus estudiantes a este poema fue mas touching aun...I e-mail Dr. Villafane as you advise to do so, hopefully, she'll meet with me so she can see first hand how serious and comprometido i am about this new venture i am about to embark, gracias de nuevo, Pedro Trivella

sijagur said...

Visitting your blog.. greetings from Indonesia

Melissa said...

This post really hit home. Lately, I've found myself doing the same thing-choking up while reading something in class that I think is SO important. We've been reading about Harriet Tubman and Martin Luther King, Jr. I teach 3rd grade, and most people don't realize what an impact these poems and stories can have on our little guys.

I used to try to be "professional" but I've recently discovered that when I allow myself the permission to tear up when we're reading something important, or touching, the kids respond in a totally different way.

It feels good to hear that the same thing is happening in other people's classrooms across the country.