Today something wonderful happened to me: I was a guest star in a very exciting classroom. Mike C., a student from my first years of teaching, who was in sixth and seventh grade at the time, is now himself a third grade teacher, and he invited me to visit with his class during the first day of a poetry unit. He started by getting the kids’ ideas on what poetry is, and then we started reading the book Love That Dog together, which takes the reader on a journey through one boy’s coming to terms with poetry thanks to a very savvy teacher. We discussed “The Red Wheelbarrow” by William Carlos Williams, which comes up in the book, and then, after much excellent teaching and guiding by Mike, they went off to write their own poems in the same style, curling up in various places around the classroom. I went around to see what they were writing, and was blown away by how much they had taken away from the lesson and how much poetic sensibility they already had. I saw from the beginning how comfortable they were reading and talking and reacting and evaluating. They were in very good hands.
What was so astounding about all this is that *I* was treated like a celebrity, since I had taught their beloved teacher and been lucky enough to talk about the same things with him for two years. How I came out on top in this deal I don’t know, but one thing is for sure: I taught a much better class tonight to my own students after seeing just what good teaching can do.