March SOLC–Day 18
In fourth grade we spend a lot of time learning how to write essays: personal essays, persuasive essay, literary essays. We’ve learned about forming a thesis, finding reasons to support it and then providing varied evidence for each reason. We’ve also considered addressing countering arguments to make opinion writing stronger, starting with phrases like, “Some people might think…”, and then going on to offer a counterargument. Students in my class have really gravitated toward the structure of this genre and enjoy voicing their opinions and providing reasons and evidence for them.
We’ve had a couple of opportunities for some free writing time lately (highly unusual!) and many of my students are choosing to write essays. One essay I received a while back argued persuasively for a pajama day the next day. (Wish granted!) Another essay was waiting on my desk after I returned from a sick day (I sliced about that here). Yesterday, a student handed me her essay with a big grin. It was entitled: “Mrs. Hogan is a good teacher.”
“Will you read it while we’re at specials?” H. asked.
“Sure,” I said, smiling. “Thanks!” So sweet! After walking the kids to the Library, I headed back to my classroom to read the essay. I looked at the title again. A good teacher? Hmmm…that’s a pretty tame claim. I mean, good’s good. But just good? In C’s essay I was the “best” teacher. Laughing at my own thoughts and my ego, I started to read, looking forward to a feel-good moment. As I read, I had two different thought trains going. One focused on the actual essay structure:
She’s got the structure down pat. Hmmmm…Clear introduction…She’s got three reasons and decent evidence but she relies heavily on examples…
The other was channeling Sally Fields in her famous (infamous?) Oscar speech:
She thinks I’m cool. She thinks I’m helpful and nice! And fun, too! Oh, good, she likes me!
(Ok, I know that being liked by my students is not the ultimate goal, but I’m only human!)
And then I got to the conclusion:
POP! My puffed-up ego precipitously deflated. So much for my feel-good moment! I burst out laughing. Well, she’s definitely working on including that counterargument! Now channeling optimism, I’m opting to believe that she’s not using it skillfully yet and not really indicating that there’s an ongoing student (or, God forbid, parent!) conversation about me not being a good teacher. Ugh! Now I’m not going to be able to get that thought out of my mind!
Luckily, a former first grade student of mine,now in second grade, arrived to save my day. Skipping into my classroom, she gave me a hug and handed me a St. Patrick’s Day card.
“Best teacher alive!” Now that’s a superlative! …though it does make me wonder how those contrasting dead teachers were performing.