Thursday, September 8, 2011

return to the world of blogging and how candy can save us all

try not to pass out from the shock. it's a blog update. of course, the passing out would require that someone was actually reading this blog at some point. i imagine you all eagerly checking lunchbyteblog every day, anxiously waiting another post. you must be forlorn by now. resigned to the fact that this blog has become something promised but never delivered upon. i follow in the footsteps of chinese democracy, duke nukem forever, and indiana jones and the crystal skull. hopefully though, this update won't suck as much as those bits of vaporware when they were finally and sadly released.
what makes the long hiatus all the more confusing is that, for the longest time, i have considered myself a writer. i spent time in college studying writing. i wrote for the college paper. i have, over the years, written thousands of poems and have written quite a few in the time spent away from this blog. but i have written nary an update.
that changes today.
for my "return to the world of blogging" post, i would like to talk about candy. yes, candy. you see there's a big ol' honkin bag of assorted candies in the office area of our school. i discovered it today. and there are things in this huge bag called 'sassy tarts' that look and taste suspiciously like sweet tarts. except they're not sweet. they're sassy.
so i discovered these sassy tarts during lunch and proceeded to make my way back into the office several times during the afternoon to eat a few more of these sassy tarts. they were sweet and i was sassy and all was right with the world.
until the end of the day.
that's when i went looking for another package of sassy tarts and found out that they had all disappeared. gone. there were none left. zero. zilch. none.
now i am absolutely sure that i didn't eat all of them. but there were none to be found when i wanted more. i was crestfallen and dumbfounded. what had happened to the sassy tarts? where did they all go?
and then it hit me. someone else was eating the sassy tarts. someone else had been captivated by them. someone else was eating the candy and they liked it. someone else kept coming back for more. maybe several someone elses.
so then i wandered back to my classroom and began to have a conversation with the student teacher that had been assigned to our school this semester. she was worried about classroom management and she was wondering how to deal with a particular us history class. we discussed several strategies and i ended the discussion by telling her she had to find out what worked for her. what worked for me may not work for her. she had to find a way to deal with distractions that was true to herself and her way of thinking. then i reminded her about what had happened during her lesson today.
during parts of the lesson, some guys were joking around and she had to admonish them several times. they weren't being mean or really disrespectful. they just weren't all together with her. to be honest, they weren't really engaged. but she got their attention and gave them the assignment and they got to work. and then they were quiet. i pointed this out to her during the lesson. they were working and suddenly engaged. and when they were engaged, they were concentrating and into it. they liked it.
and then it struck me that engagement and candy were the same thing. this is what the kids had wandered into the room to find. they wanted the metaphorical sassy tarts. sure, there was a big honkin' bag of candy (ways to teach) out there but they didn't want those other pieces of candy (instructional strategies). those pieces of candy had no appeal to these students. they had tried them all before. what appealed to those students at that moment was something new and novel. the student teacher had stumbled onto what was going to engage them and in that moment had solved her discipline problems for the rest of the day. and if she can learn from that moment, maybe she has begun to solve them for the rest of her time with us.
engagement equals candy. and students will keep coming back for more if we can only get them hooked in the first place.

ps. the student teacher is doing a fine job. we all struggle at times with certain classes. she is learning how to "do" this teaching thing. so are we all.

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