Self-Extension

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October 26, 2021-

Who is more uncomfortable teaching math to a group? The question was on both my mind and that of my co-teacher, earlier today. The kids were not too concerned. My group seemed to understand the lesson, and took my fat-fingering the Smart Board graphics in stride. The other group loves their teacher too much, to not cut her some slack, in the one-day absence of her regular co-teacher.

Besides, these two classes are perfect examples of what keeps me connected to education, even after official retirement. They are typical, robust, sometimes devious 11-year-olds, but when it comes to learning, to paying attention, their concept of their role is spot-on. Like the native speakers of Parisian French or Mandarin Chinese, all they ask is that you try.

Trying to explain a concept that is a bit rusty, from decades of scant use, is a temptation for shyness or self-doubt to set in. I said “No”, to that temptation, and took the fat-fingering in stride. It was made all the easier by the students’ assumption that Boomers know nothing of Smart Boards, and their inherent patience. (Disclosure: Penny was in the first group of teachers in Arizona to use a Smart Board, in 2002. I got to try the tool out, several times, on visits to her classroom.) The kids were amazed, at how quickly I learned to use the tool.

There is joy, and power, in extending oneself. That is the most important lesson I hope the students picked up today.

The Road to 65, Mile 96: Security

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March 4, 2015, Chino Valley-  I got to use a smart board today, for the first time since leaving Dysart Unified, in 2011.  The Title I students were pretty much self-motivated, so it was not a hard day. One incident took place early on, though.  A couple of boys decided to tease one of the girls by hiding her cell phone.  After a bit of banter, the girl started to shake, and cry.  The phone came back to her, when I intervened.

Of course, use of cellular phones in school is for educational purposes only- no texting, no selfies.  The teens are actually pretty good about following this rule.  I thought about what would make a 15-year-old melt down, over the momentary loss of a phone.  The answer is- lack of connectedness.  We saw  here, last week, how many adults lost it, when the Internet was down, along with land line phones.  Combine such a momentary disconnect with being on Green Card status, and being new to the community, with minimal English skills, and yes- Shattered.

This is another aspect of forgetting who we are, and who everyone with whom we come in contact is.  No matter whether native-born, legally immigrating, or of sketchy legal status, there is no point in isolating anyone from their loved ones, save solitary confinement of the adjudicated deadly menace.  Even then, there is a proviso for occasionally showing the light of day.

I was glad to see her later on, feeling happy and secure.