Sara and I have just returned from a four day visit to a couple elementary schools in the Judson School district just on the outskirts of San Antonio. I like to say that the smarter I get he younger the student I can work with. I’d love to challenge any of my MFA teaching colleagues to step into a classroom of five year olds keep their attention while teaching a literacy lesson using poetry.
I will admit though, doing so at either Crestview or Coronado Elementary school would make the task a bit easier.
Sara and I found engaged students and teachers, vibrant colorful classrooms and supportive administrators in both schools. It was like coming upon an expat hang out overseas. That enclave where everyone speaks your native tongue. I am not talking about English in this case – lots of the students here speak English as a second language, I am talking about pedagogical language.
It is obvious that both schools have high expectations for both their students and their staff and it showed in the work they were willing to tackle. We wrote poems highlighting compare and contrast, refrain, personification and narrative structure. We wrote about ourselves, the Alamo, Helen Keller, the playground (did you know the first grade duel language classroom at Coronado like to do the Conga at recess?) and went for word hunts in our classrooms.
We pre-wrote, wrote – rewrote, summarized, simile-ed, and refrained our way to writing about ourselves and our lessons. And while doing so I learned a thing or two from the kids and teachers – mostly how students will rise to the challenge when the challenge is presented with the expectation of success.
We did get a little goofy too.