Sure I Can Focus

Been interviewing teachers for my Chinese students all week; I’ve hired one officially, and have two potentials in reserve.  Didn’t even consider the one who retorted, “You don’t use phonics?  How do they learn to read?”  She then proceeded to tell me all about the benefits of phonics.  When asked to write a couple of sentences about Easter, she took 8 minutes to write 5 sentences such as this one: Easter originally  a celebration that was historically celebrated by Christians. Yeah.  Let’s hear it for phonics.  The new guy seems really cool; he’s been classically trained in teaching ESL but I think I can fix that.  :p  There are a couple of boys in one of my classes who I think might do better with a young man who can discuss soccer with them.

Have been goofing around with one of my mid-level classes of kids.  I’ve had most of them for just over a year, and they’re zipping along so fast it’s hard to keep up with them.  I need to kick them up a notch, so I’ve been having them learn this:

They’re getting pretty good at it.  ‘Round about Alligator Pie, I believe the parents learned to just bite their tongues and trust me….

Last night’s session at the tutoring centre involved half an hour of EQAO bashing, and then a little bit of practice.  Yep, these kids are learning to write the test well.  Even the one who is functionally illiterate may pass.  The one student who was working on other stuff (Grade 12 English essay) had the little lightbulb go on over her head when she understood how to analyse a story.  No one had taught her this before, and she’s been getting 75% -80% in her English classes.  She now has to learn about Marxism and Feminism in order to pass her English class, but we’ll deal with that another time. (Why is Whole Language such a foreign concept to people who do nothing but work with language?)

Last week, a friend hauled a copy of The Story of the Night from his bag and asked if I had read it. I had, shortly after it first came out, but that was when I had (if I recall) a small child and a newborn.  I re-read it this week.  The friend’s comment was something to the effect of “I’m glad I’m not living his life”.  Yeah.  Me, too.  I believe he picked up the book because it’s set in Argentina (in which he will soon be vacationing); I think I’d recommend a cheerier book.   Of course, I’m now reading Perfume, as a student has chosen it for an independent study.  Shall be looking for something light and trashy to read next.

I’ve been working a little bit on my other obsession (Which one? you ask. There are so many to choose from.) The other big one, not one of the little ones; having had The Fields of Athenry in my head for more than a week at Christmas, I went on an anti-English rampage and wrote some fairly hostile stuff.  One story is good.  However, every Lord Trevelyan Sucks spiel must be accompanied by rousing renditions of Foggy Dew, and so we’ve moved ahead a few hundred years to the place where you can bow down to the memory of James Connolly.  Years ago, my best friend found James Stephens’ (my favourite poet) Insurrection in Dublin, which I didn’t even know existed.  I am inspired; the problem lies in wondering if the offering is worthy.

That’s pretty much all that’s been in my head this week… other than Iron and Wine, of course.  As he walked past my computer the other day, my son muttered “Obsess much?”  No.  Not me.


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