Wednesday, May 13, 2009

My Students were Teachers Today, and I Had Writer's Block

We did a quote quickwrite in one of my classes today. The quote, from the Roman philosopher Seneca (although my first thought, after locating the quote on a Google search on a focus area, was, "Hey, that's the last line of the song, 'Closing Time!'"), was:

"Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end."

To me, it seemed incredibly deep and brimming with directions to go in. I was really looking forward to writing about it, analyzing it with my students, having a great discussion. I wrote the quote on large paper and read it aloud twice. I then started timing two minutes (that's what our quickwrite discussions are--basically, the kids and I respond in writing silently and individually to a given quote for two minutes then talk about it in a whole-group discussion and see where things end up) and realized almost immediately that I couldn't think of a darn thing to write.

Total block, and on a quote that I had chosen. What a dolt! So basically I just listed questions on my quickwrite sheet and kept a much closer eye on the clock than I usually do. Talk about being able to relate ... WOW!

The best part, of course, is that many of my students wrote amazing responses and contributed to a valuable discussion. I don't think it was a wasted quote or a pointless effort ... it just surprised me to be blocked so suddenly and completely.

It was a true privilege to watch my students surpass my own ability today : )

9 comments:

  1. Yay for you! Best kinds of lessons are the ones like these!

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  2. I love when a class goes "oh so right". It totally makes my day because sometimes they go "oh so wrong". :-)

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  3. I would love to know what they wrote, how interesting!

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  4. 'The Block' hits us all...usually at the wrong time and place.

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  5. It's amazing how we learn when we teach. I love it! Thanks for sharing and what a neat quote!

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  6. That's an awesome lesson for the students though, and gives them an amazing vote of confidence, knowing they did something their teacher didn't. LOVE That quote! Jenni

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  7. Wow, what a great quote - I totally recognize it from the song "Closing Time" (that song will be stuck in my head for the rest of the day now, although that's okay - it's better than the Wonder Pets theme that has been playing on an endless loop.) and had no idea it was from somewhere else.

    Also love your story of learning from you students - you sound like a really great teacher!

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  8. What an awesome response from your students!!! Very cool exercise!

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  9. I'm sure your students were encouraged to know that even the expert sometimes faces a block! Sometimes we teach when we least expect to...((smile)) Enjoyed this! Thanks for sharing! ~Janine XO

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