June 29, 2012

Best Teaching Experience of My Life

Revisited the kids at the Kings Art Complex this morning.

We gathered in a circle to share what we thought was the most important part of a book.  Character.  Plot.  Setting.  Dialogue. 

Then I read the beginning of Holes to show how sensory details bring a place to life.

The kids wrote about a place that mattered to them, using as many senses as possible.  I invited the two counselors to join the activity.

I wrote, too.  It brought me back to my mom's kitchen, when she used to fry onions and chicken livers.  (And cooked cow tongue.  No wonder I'm a vegetarian!)  I remembered how Mom's pink lipstick glistened and her odd, screechy laugh.

One of the counselors, Iris, read about sitting in the cafeteria in kindergarten and being forced to stay until she finished all her food.  The food was awful.  So she sat as all the other classes came and went, came and went.

John, the other counselor, wrote about the gym back home that he misses -- the sweat, the blood, the pain.  His writing drew us into his place entirely.

The kids were shy at first, but shared such wonderful writing.  I could almost taste the fried chicken at one boy's favorite restaurant -- Roosters.  And feel the eerie desolation of a place set in the future that was once happy, but not anymore.  We visited a classroom with a mysterious locked cabinet. 

We read more, chatted more, especially about the public library, and wrote more.  The hour passed too quickly.

I'm grateful to the Thurber House and the Kings Art Complex for arranging this time to share my love of reading and writing with the kids and counselors.

I'm especially grateful to the counselors, John and Iris, for not only participating, but embracing the activity.  Iris, it turns out, is studying to be a language arts teacher.  And John said he always wanted to be a writer.  He clearly already is a writer. 

Thank you, John and Iris!


Dan R. said...

Donna, just about the time your two sons are nearly grown and you think your role as a "mother" is nearing an end, you find yourself slap-dab in the midst of a new family of youngsters. And young writers, to boot. Ain't life grand?

Your cup is full to overflowing, and you deserve it.

Wild About Words said...

Thanks, Dan. You are right, my friend. That "mother" thing doesn't end. Hope you're having a lovely and productive summer. My best to Carole!