Two weeks till school and the autumn ritual has begun: Back to School Shopping. Not for my students. They are high school – (or junior high school – ) dropouts. Now they are enrolled in the GED program where I teach. Let’s just say they’re not the pocket-protector types. It’s rare that they come to class with a pen or pencil, let alone a new notebook. We provide the pencils, paper and folders to store their work. But I was the kind of kid who loved school and loved back-to-school shopping – and now I’m the kind of teacher who loves the same. This year my back-to-school shopping list includes:
Index cards: As I’ve said, the blank page is scary for its vast expanse of white space. The index card is less so; it’s smaller, easier to fill; less intimidating … which is important for my students, who have had their confidence about their ability to write bludgeoned out of them by previous school experiences.
Colorful file folders: File folders for storing student work in. Color because manila is too work-a-day. Color livens things up.
Colored printer paper: For printing assignments on. Again, white would do, but color makes everything seem more festive.
Juggling balls: Yes, I know, it’s poetry class. But I recently read that ADD adults write better if they take breaks for activities like walking a straight line, balancing on one foot … and juggling. As I mentioned earlier, my students left high school for one reason or another. Not necessarily because they failed school … more likely school failed them. I suspect that many have learning disabilities that they didn’t get the proper attention for. And the more I read about ADD, the more I’m sure that many of my students have it. Or, they’re just kinesthetic learners; the kind of students who need to be moving while they take in new information. So we’ll try taking juggling breaks.
Next on my to-do list … decide which poems to start the year off with: What to read? What to write? That … and brush up on my juggling.