At the beginning of each new school year, I would give my students a journal in which to write during the next two years. We didn’t do a lot of journal entries, but I liked to take a survey of how they were feeling about certain events or projects without having a whole class discussion. With the journals, they wrote during class and I would read them afterwards. And, because they knew I was the only one to see these entries, I learned some interesting things about my students.
The journals were always handed out the second day of school and the first question to which I wanted a response was: How did the first day of school go for you? Almost every student, every year, would write that the teachers talked too much, they got tired of listening, they shut down and quit listening. This was due to the fact that the teachers were required to give out their rules and syllabus on the first day. I don’t know WHY that was a requirement, but it was. Being the rebel, I quit doing it after reading my students’ responses.
So, what did I do on the first day of class? I introduced myself. I told a little about the class and what we would be doing. Then I let them talk for the rest of the period. They had been away from school all summer. They wanted to talk to their friends. However, while they talked, I watched and listened. A few would engage me in conversation. They had questions about what was going on at school or how to do certain things like sign up for a sport. The next day, after they wrote in their journals, we would do a few of the record keeping tasks like hand out permission slips for all those field trips we would be taking. I would introduce marketing and talk about customer service. The third day, more paperwork, more rules. But, each day, I didn’t talk the whole period. No one wants to listen to someone talk at them for an hour.
The program in which I taught had a separate graduation ceremony for the seniors. If you have been with me on this blog for a few years, you may remember some of those events. We had a student speaker, a faculty speaker, and a member of the community speak. I had a rule for speeches: five minutes ONLY. I would tell the speakers that no one wanted to listen to them talk for more than five minutes. The students and their families appreciated this and would often complain about the BIG graduation for the whole school where the speakers talked FOREVER. Sometimes the kids would say, “Mrs. Zody, you should be in charge of graduation.” Uh, no thanks.
The other day I saw this infographic on Twitter and I had to laugh. It visually shows what I’ve been saying all these years:
The blue square on the left is last summer’s journal. The black one is this summer’s journal. Think I have more to say this year?
My journaling has changed. I’m collecting word lists from my reading. I write down snatches of overheard conversation. I do some sketching. So, I need bigger pages. My last three journals have been this style from Barnes & Noble.
I finished writing the Allied Arts Girls book and have begun to ponder what to do next. In the church archives, there is another box of ledgers and minutes books. Nothing as fancy as the AA Girls’ metal box, but pretty complete for almost 50 years of meetings. This one was the Welcome Class, made up of elderly ladies in the church. The group existed from 1923 to 1971.
Making notes and thinking on paper. July should be an exciting month.
Long before I started this blog, I wrote in journals; you know, the paper and pen kind. I still do, and even though this blog is random, oh my, the journals are even more so. I love to go back, two years, five years, ten years, and see what I was doing on a certain date. September 11 seemed like a good time to go back ten years.
I have been discouraged and sad so have not been writing. Yearbook students have not been selling ads. Walt Barsam has resigned his position as TV director. How much longer can TV service last? (This is in reference to our church’s Sunday service being televised. It’s still on the air.) The bathroom is still out of order but Terry is getting people out here to work on it. I need more & better equipment for yearbook. Michael Harris (a teacher at our school) died last Thursday. There have been mass killings in the news the past 2 weeks. What is wrong with people?
I wrote those sentences before leaving for school, very early, that Tuesday morning. It was a minimum day with lots to do in a very short time so I was at school by 7, which was 10 on the east coast. It was all over by then.
I knew nothing about the terrorist attacks until after 7:30 when another teacher arrived in our office and started telling me what had happened. I picked up my mug and went into our work room, where there is a sink, filled the mug with water, and stood there, thinking, “no, this is impossible.” I walked back out into our office, looked at her, and said, “you’ve got to be kidding, how could this happen?” I think, collectively, that was the question the whole country was asking right about then.
We were safe here, the terror did not come to our own shores. To change the NYC skyline in a matter of minutes is incomprehensible. I sat, every night, watching the horror unfold, unable to look away. Finally, I figured out what I was watching for–a happy ending, a solution, all made right with the world again. It never came.