My review of Harper Lee’s latest

This is not the usual “coming of age” novel because our protagonist is not a teenager, but an adult.However, as all young adults, we have that time in our lives when we realize how extraordinarily different our perceptions of people and life are when we are children. Readers are reunited with the citizens of the fictitious town of Maycomb,Alabama, and in true Harper Lee style, the first half of the book is spent on events in the narrator’s life. We read of her traumatic,yet humorous, transition into puberty, her rebellious teenage years, and her decision to leave Maycomb to work in New York. We find out the fate of her beloved brother and we are introduced to other characters that have entered her life since her face-to-face meeting with Boo Radley. My only disappointment was that there was no further update on Boo Radley’s fate.

I do not feel that the critics were fair in their vicious attack on the character of Atticus. Yes, Atticus attended a KKK meeting and was overheard in the ‘community’ meeting using the ‘n’ word. And, yes, I would have the same initial anger that Scout had,but Lee restores respect to the character in Atticus’s discussion of why he attended and the purpose behind his actions. One also has to understand the setting of the novel. The novel cannot be read with today’s standards and fully understand Atticus. According to Foster’s How to Read Literature Like a Professor, readers must ” find a reading perspective that allows for sympathy with the historical moment of the story, that understands the text as having been written against its own social, historical, cultural, and personal background.” If a reader can do this, then there can be some understanding of Atticus and others in Maycomb.

The novel is true to its title, as Lee quotes from the bible, “For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Go,set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth.” Lee shows readers Jean Louise’s return home to experience the realization that while as children, one does not see the flaws of those respected. Jean Louise found her own conscience (‘watchman”). One apart from Atticus and those she respected growing up. Growth is painful, and as she listened to Dr. Finch and to Atticus, she does gain some compassion, but is still firm in her own beliefs about the need for equality of mankind.

IMG_0124.JPG

Strap in – scream your lungs out and enjoy the ride!

Teaching is a profession that never ceases to amaze me. Maybe I’m just a tad crazy ( actually one has to be to be a teacher), but when one goes from the lowest lows to he highest highs in only twenty-four hours, something is either gravely wrong or that person is a true educator.

In the last 26 years, federal and state standards and testing have taken the art out of teaching and made the job more of a scripted science project. if we use method A and Method B, then test scores will be high; but if we use method C or method D, scores will dramatically decrease. No longer is it up to the professional to observe a situation , get to know students and use our talents. Instead, we are bombarded with prescribed units and tests to teach. So, it is no wonder that we see educators leaving the profession in droves. However, if we continue to believe that teaching in an art and not a prescribed science, we persevere and continue to look for ways to create an opus that can be shared and enjoyed.

True educators see the potential in situations that seem bleak, and even though we disagree with the over-testing and prescribed units, we are still able to take those prescription and make them into our very own works of art.

So, if you are a struggling educator, ready to leave the profession, remember that artists struggle many times before a true masterpiece is achieved. Keep searching, keep observing, keep loving and keep creating. Teaching is the monster of all roller coaster rides! Strap in, throw your hands in the air and scream your hearts out- but most of all- enjoy the ride!

IMG_0101.JPG

Yay Days

As many veteran teachers know, not every day is successful in the world of education. However, when those successful days arise, we feel a high that comes only with the satisfaction of knowing ~they get it! They really get it! I refer to these as my ” Yay Days.”
Today was a “Yay Day.” Building on an idea from Sara awes sling from the Teaching Channel, my students participated in what Sara called “pinwheel discussions.” My students have just completed reading three works from Ray Bradbury: “The Pedestrian”, ” There Will Come Soft Rain”, and Fahrenheit 451. The longer this discussion continued, the more excited they got. After a passage was read, in response to a comment made during the discussion, the students were actually cheering! It was enough to give this teacher of 26 years chills!
For innovative ideas and to connect with other educators, I would suggest using Teachingchannel.org. This is an awesome resource that has helped me have a few more “yay days”!

IMG_0061.JPG

Fame, shoes and discipline problems- Just another day as a high school teacher

I guess you can say I had my five minutes of fame today. Well, as famous as one can be who teaches 10th grade English… in a rural south Ga school… the last class period of the day.

What, you may say, made me so famous? My shoes! I had NO idea!

So, here is the play-by-play: I was standing in the hallway between classes as I always do. As I took a moment to glance outside, I was accosted by five large male teenagers snapping pictures with their cell phones! I felt like a movie star. I hear them begin chanting ” Oh, Mrs. Davis got on them Tims!”
I had no idea that Timberland boots were so male-teen popular. Not only were they impressed with the fact that I had them , they were also enthralled that I had pink “Tims” .

I have to tell you that this is “that” class. The one that makes me consider early retirement and cause me to doubt my career choice. In this class there is a group of boys who usually instigate and proliferate the problems, and, you guessed it…this is the same group that were snapping pictures of my boots! Needless to say, today’s class was a breeze! Who knew? All I had to do to solve my issues in this difficult class was to wear the right shoes!

Continue reading Fame, shoes and discipline problems- Just another day as a high school teacher

Semester Two

As the new calendar year begins, another semester continues the school year. This is always a good time to reflect on what worked and what didn’t with my students during the first semester. Each school year brings a new set of students and each class has its own personality. It is import to keep these nuances in mind and be prepared to adjust plans to fit the personality of the classes and students.

IMG_1471.JPG

Teaching: Not just a job

As my heading states, teaching is not just a job, it’s a way of life. This has been proven again and again whenever dangerous situations stare them in the face and yesterday was no exception. In the Atlanta area and in Alabama, teachers “hunkered down” for the night with students due to the situation caused by inclement weather. It amazes me just how much is always expected of us on a day to day basis, and then, when the going gets tough, teachers stand tall and do what has to be done for the safety and well- being of their students. My hat’s off to these educators who stepped up once again in the face of adversity and showed the world the compassion and class ( pun intended) that we teachers possess!