Friday, August 20, 2004

Barack Obama

Today I read Barack Obama's democratic national convention keynote speech aloud to my classes. They loved it. Some of them even applauded. Obama is the African-American man who is running for senator in Illinois. And he's getting a lot of media attention. His speech is beautiful. He addresses racial issues. I told the students, or rather, Melanie Anne Plesh told the students, that Obama might be our first African-American president. One girl said maybe he'd be the vice president to Hillary Clinton, president.
While I was reading my eyes teared up. Already. Second day and I'm already crying in front of them. They'll get used to it. Almost every day something does that to me.
Anyway, they were really attentive. Then we wrote a first draft on something about the speech that particularly moved us and they cooperated completely. They wanted to. It's not a fight. They have a lot to say (as I always say about adolescents, THEY HAVE A LOT TO SAY!)
The speech and the writing turned out so well that I'm afraid I've begun with my best thing. Where do I go from here? And it's not like I dug in my bag and pulled out my best trick. I just decided to do this last night. Hope I can keep it up. Starting out with the bar set pretty damned high though. Monday I'm going to let them read essays from my Copenhagen box, only the essays that strike them as interesting, while I confer with each student about the two writings they've already done. My first impression of them and their writing is that they're smart. Sharp. Aware. Thinkers. But their writing doesn't show it. Some of their writing is almost like another language that they're laboring over.
By the way, the classes are small. Of course, that will probably change come Labor Day. However, I think they will remain relatively small, like 22 in each class. Very manageable.
One kid, J, came in tardy and looks desperately worried. I'm afraid for him. A girl, G, slept the whole class. When I spoke with her she said she didn't sleep last night. I didn't ask why. Too soon for that. I just gave her a blanket to put around her shoulders.
At the end of the day, both yesterday and today, our principal, got on the intercom and thanked the teachers for being there and for all that we do. And it was heartfelt.
I love this school.

Disposed of: a pencil sharpener which is shaped like a wishing well and an empty Mozart candy box from Germany which is shaped like a cello. I'm bringing those to school.

Melanie Plesh


Blogger Joan said...

What a different world you bring us in this writing. Keep it up! Joan

9:58 AM  
Blogger Joan said...

You are giving people outside of that environment a dose of urban reality. Reminds me of Mike Rose's look at central Los Angeles in his book. I look forward to reading more.Joan

7:22 AM  

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