Wednesday, September 29, 2010

More than just French...

My school is in the middle of its rechartering review. There are people here from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) attending meetings, holding focus groups, interviewing people and sitting in on classes. If you're in the building, you can see them coming and going, here and there, trying to take in all the weirdness that is my school's average way of being. I don't see them all that much, though. It's rare that my classes are observed during these reviews. I think this must be because Introductory French or Spanish is assumed to be bland, basic or uninteresting. I guess, if you took language from anyone else, anywhere else, that would be a fair assumption, but this is my school and I am me. Let me assure you that my classes are far from the average.

One brave member of the review committee figured this out today. He stopped in during my long block class just as they were about to put on their interpretive dance of adjectives (they’ve been learning all about describing words this week, as well as how to use non-verbal language to support the words they use). My visitor, dressed all official-like in a suit and tie, came into the classroom as my first group was setting up. I welcomed him--the first such visitor I’ve seen in several years--and I explained what the class was up to. It needed an explanation because my students were spread all over the room and out into the hallway, and it must have looked quite the sight to see them blocking out their movements everywhere.

He took a seat out of the way and my class settled in as well to watch the first performance. The first group’s interpretive dance, which was accompanied by the music from the Sherlock Holmes movie, incorporated the French words for cocky, strong, intelligent, unique, obnoxious, brave and happy, as well as a word they looked up, afraid. None of the students in this group was a dancer, but all together they created a thoroughly engaging, detailed and well-prepared presentation of their understanding of what we’ve been learning. The applause was enthusiastic (as is usually the case), and we moved right into a review of these words and how the group communicated them without words.

My observer left at that point, I'm sure to go to yet another meeting. I think he left a bit shell-shocked, but absolutely impressed by what he saw. He could come into pretty much any class on pretty much any day and leave pretty much the same way.

I'm sorry I don't get more visitors in my classes. My students to such amazing things all the time, and it's a little sad that the only person who gets to see it most of the time is I. If you're ever in the neighborhood, stop on by. Come watch my class. Seriously, you will leave just like the DESE will tomorrow--a little shell-shocked, but absolutely impressed!

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