Question of the Day: When was the last time you taught someone how to do something? How would you describe your teaching style?
Day 08: Long-term goals of the year.
**Nature of Magic Blogfest**
Once again, my apologies for posting my submission so late! But I guess “better late than never,” eh? Here was our task:
Write or share something you’ve already written that, to you, shows the nature of magic. It can be an excerpt from your WIP, something you’ve written especially, poetry, whatever strikes your fancy. It just needs to show the nature of magic as it exists for you or for those you write about. Unless you’re writing poetry, try to keep the entries somewhere between 250-1000 words.
The nature of magic? When people first think of magic, what first pops in their minds are the supernatural, the spells and the unicorns, and The Harry Potter. But what about the magic that happens all around us everyday? I believe that magic in reality deals with feelings, thoughts and things that can’t be touched or seen. Like love. Like the moment when you are teaching someone else who is frustrated and confused and, after several moments of struggling, you finally get through to that student in some other way.
(I apologize for my super-long entry! Once I start writing, I just can’t seem to stop!!!)
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“Let’s try this again.” I tried to keep my voice at a steady level, but with every tick my watch was reminding me that the hour was drawing to a close. Adriana Sanchez was squirming in her seat, her coarse, black hair wrapped around a single finger. She breathed out a deep sigh of clear frustration and, once again, bent over the textbook to study the sentences.
All I knew about this child was that she and her family had migrated into the states from Mexico and that, while she was brilliant in mathematics, the sciences, and even in American history, her ability to speak English was lacking. Sure, she could understand the language, but her Spanish accent was so thick it was always difficult for the other children to understand what she was even saying.
What had I been thinking when I’d agreed to tutor Adriana? Yes, I studied Spanish all throughout high school and college. Yes, I’d already taught Spanish to children before. But wasn’t spending eight hours a day with a class of thirty-two children enough already?
What on earth is wrong with you? a voice in my head whispered. You love teaching! You spent years getting your degree in education and now you’re counting down the seconds until you can go home and, what, take a nap?
It was true. I’d loved teaching. Loved. But did I anymore? I’d dreamt of teaching at one of the top primary schools in America, and here I was. I’d achieved my goal and, up until six months ago, I’d been living the dream. My dream.
It no longer felt like a dream. The rush of excitement was gone, the rush I used to feel every time my students would slowly nod their heads after they’d finally mastered a particularly abstract concept. What was often left in its place was exasperation and impatience.
How could things for me have come to this?
“The dug rrron oberrr the heel.” Morgan’s big brown eyes squinted close together as she struggled to match her words to the letters that glared back at her.
“Close,” I said wryly.
“The dog-uh rrun oberrr the heel?”
Things happened so fast. One moment, I was eyeing the text below pictures of Golden Retrievers running over hills and across neighborhood streets. A split second later, I was staring at the top of the desk where the book used to be.
The book was now grasped tightly in the hands of Adriana, whose face was filled with nothing but resentment and pure anger. With one mighty thrust, the girl slammed the book to the ground, making such a large thump that even I couldn’t help but flinch.
I stared at Adriana, shocked. “Adriana! What has gotten into you?!” I cried.
“I am tired of this! Lo más cerca que alguna vez me va a conseguir es ‘cerca!’ Quiero ir a casa ahora!” The closest I’m ever going to get is “close!” I want to go home NOW! With that, Adriana began swiping all the books off of the other desks and trashing the floor with them. Tears were streaming down her face.
All at once, I was taken back to one year ago, the day Billy Carson threw up during Reading Hour. The day Principal Lawson had patted my shoulder and said in a satisfactory tone, “You did good, Miss. You did good.” Quick, think! I thought frantically to myself. What did I do back then? How did I handle the catastrophe?
I remembered ushering the kids out, cool as a cucumber. Some of the louder, more obnoxious boys made bets about how many gallons of puke there were on the classroom floor. Big, brawny, nine-year-old Tray called Billy a heffalump. “Don’t pay attention to them, I’d said to Billy outside the boys’ bathroom, helping him wipe off leftover Trix cereal mush. Everyone has puked at least once in school. Trust me, I’ve had my fair share of puking experiences way back when I was your age. You never know, it might be Tray next time who gets the “queasies.” And Billy had laughed.
Just don’t make it a big deal. “Don’t make it a big deal,” I whispered to myself now. “Yeah.”
I stood up and slowly walked to where Adriana was still abusing the poor textbooks and littering the ground. I waited until she finally came to a stopping point to catch her breath. Before she could resume her vandalizing, I asked, “se sienta mejor?” Feeling better?
Adriana glared at me before returning to her desk and plopping down on her seat. “No. Yo quiero ir a casa.” I want to go home.
“But we aren’t done with the lesson, Adriana,” I said, doing my best to keep my voice from quivering. I walked back to sit across from her again. “Now can you please tell me why you threw those books on the floor?”
“Usted debe haber tenido algunarazón.” You must’ve had some reason.
I remembered how my mom used to stroke me on the back whenever I got upset over something. I gingerly placed my hand over Adriana and patted lightly.
“I was angry,” Adriana said. She wore a pout on her face and her eyebrows were scrunched up together. A bird in the distance. Her head was bent down so that her big, brown eyes met her pair of Converse on the floor.
“Por que te enojaste?” Why were you angry?
“Because I didn’t get English,” she said. One black and white shoe kicked the other. Thump.
I took a deep breath. “Adriana,” I began slowly. “You are not the only one who doesn’t get English. It is hard, I know. My sister had trouble too when she was your age.” Technically, anyway. My sister had been diagnosed with dyslexia ages ago, but how could you explain “dyslexia” to an eight-year-old?
“Adriana, do you understand me?” I asked, looking at her intently, hoping that she’d meet my glance.
She nodded slowly, but still looked down. It was like there was some magnetic force pulling her eyes to the floor. “I was mad, so I throw books.”
“I know…but, you know, everyone gets mad sometimes. Even grownups do, and Salma Hayek.” That was her name, I think. Some Mexican celebrity, whom I’d overheard Adriana and her mother talking about a week ago after school had ended. “But everyone can’t go and throw some books around every time they get mad, can they?”
Somewhere on Adriana’s face, I spotted a small curl. A smile.
And, all of a sudden, a wave of triumph and relief washed over me. I couldn’t help it; my corners of my mouth stretched far and wide. Her smile was contagious; it made all the difference to me. My heart quickened at the thought that I was getting through to the other side of this student. My student.
“Now, I think we ought to pick those books up before the mice come out and start chewing on them. What do you say?”
Adriana nodded. “Si.”