When I first moved to Minneapolis, I took a job teaching Chinese at a big public city school. I was new to teaching, and teaching–especially grades K-12– is wonderful but exhausting. I would power-teach three to four days a week and then ease into the weekend by reading aloud to my students for the last half hour of every class on Friday. I rationalized this activity by choosing only books–novels, memoirs, collections of stories and essays–that had something to do with China.
I had made a bunch of giant pillows out of corduroy and foam, and every Friday these big old teenagers–the hockey players, football players, cheerleaders, loud kids, shy kids, street kids, rich kids, kids who barely spoke English–would arrange themselves on the floor, and I would begin to read. There was never a sound in the room, but all eyes were on me and everyone was listening.
Those were peaceful, happy Fridays. I sat on my desk swinging my legs and reading. There were no windows in the room, and I had brought in lots of lamps so as to avoid the overhead fluorescence, and the lamplight pooled on my students’ faces, which in that light and that time were beautiful, every one of them. . .
(The above is part of a guest blog I wrote for Pippin Properties. For the full blog, please click here.)