Caramels and Apple


They should make weather protection for eyes–something apart from aviation goggles.

Every morning, the wind is colder than the day before, and it makes my eyes water.  Scarf. Gloves. Boots. Heavy coat. I’m well-supplied, but on my walk to school, I always think about Lewis Carroll’s “The Walrus and the Carpenter” as I wipe my streaming eyes.

I’m always afraid people think I’m crying on my way to work. I could cry about many things, but my job isn’t one of them.

I like the challenge of finding the balance of pushing a student and helping them relax and talk. I have a student who just about won’t talk, and I haven’t figured out if it’s a speech issue or learning problem. It makes me revisit Torrey Hayden’s accounts of her electively mute children, and how she got them to talk. I love the challenge even though it exhausts me. Her smile tells me she enjoys the class even though she doesn’t tell me so.

In different classes, I like doing things with our hands while we learn. Push pieces of papers around to form phrases or sentences. Make a hedgehog out of fruit. It’s not as tidy as a neat stack of books or papers, but it makes me happy.

I love the kiddo whose family has lived in different countries, so he’s used to hearing other languages, and he never tries to talk Polish to me. He’s only 8, and he wrinkles up his face to try to think of how he can tell me something, and when he laughs he closes his eyes. Our lessons always have plenty of merriment.

A student, new to the class of women, brought a bag of caramels to share. She asked if it’s ok to give them out at the beginning of class. She wanted to be careful not to interrupt a formal class time. I said of course it’s ok because I LIKE candy. The lady beside me explained to her, “Anita isn’t professor. She is friend.” That was high praise, in a culture that is super careful with their definition of ‘friend.’ So we all chomped caramels during the whole lesson.

The best part was when the new-comer didn’t want to say her sentences when it was her turn. “Nie dam rady.” (“I can’t do it.”) But the four women around her urged and coaxed and pushed her to try, as only women can do, and she did it superbly. I cheered for all of them.

It’s important to me that my students feel comfortable and equipped to do what I ask of them. Sometimes I miscalculate and a worksheet is too easy or too hard. This week one of them had fun constructing this sentence: “You don’t know what I know” when I’d given her work that was too easy. Her pleasure at using the right pronouns made her eyes sparkle.  This is the student who is so energetic that she fairly buzzes, and after an hour with her, I feel energized instead of tired.

This week there was the teen who is crazy about Apple, and talks endlessly about Steve Jobs trivia. And the other teen who talked to me for 45 min about her taekwondo competition in Budapest.

Yup, I’ve got the best job in town. Cold walk notwithstanding.



Photo Credit: <a href=””>Tangentical</a&gt; via <a href=””>Compfight</a&gt; <a href=””>cc</a&gt;





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