A freshman doing homework after school called to me before I reached the doors to the parking lot.
“I finished reading a book and I decided I want to do a journal entry on it it. I thought about the AP journal topic you had on the board, ‘What is the most memorable moment or image in the work, and why?’”
Having been pulled in two directions last week, considering the pros and cons of an Honors English class (we offered Honors 9, 10, and 11 years ago), the beautiful audacity of the late afternoon encounter hit me between the eyes. There is always at least one student who is reaching, who picks you up like a tornado and sets you down two years in the future, where you see the class you will be teaching, and have the chance today to modify your navigation settings in order to achieve or circumvent such a destination.
Sure, this will be a great student to have sitting in the front row of my AP Eng Lit class in 2016-17. But I look past the first row (metaphorically…I don’t have rows) and see only empty seats.
My job, it would appear, is to offer so many learning opportunities over the next two years that every student stops me at the end of the day to tell me about the responses they want to write to a free reading book; ideally, all students will be excited about certain books and anxious to sign up for senior electives such as AP, Moby Dick, or Virginia Woolf. It may be that honors classes occupy a place in the future, but I don’t see a necessity in ninth grade.
I exchange a few words of encouragement with my freshman reader and writer, whose exacting questions in September about what I wanted, have transformed into reflections about what she wants. Students like this take not only ownership, but authorship of their learning.
I move through the doors and walk to my car, beginning to prepare for tomorrow.