Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Day Thirty-four - Reform School
I love working with my summer school students. They are intelligent, genuine, funny teenagers who make me laugh, and give me plenty to think about. Some have language comprehension problems, and struggle to understand the summer reading books that they have been assigned ("Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief", "The Breadwinner", "Touching Spirit Bear"). We spend time discussing vocabulary, expressions, and inferences; they can decode the words, but the deeper meaning often eludes them.

Other students have socially based language problems, and get into difficulty because they can't filter what they say or "read the room". One student named himself "Stupid" in a turn-taking game yesterday, knowing I would use his game name when it was his turn, and having a teacher call him that somehow amused him. I opted to call him "The Lawyer" (his character), while providing him with endless opportunities to have a successful conversation with me. He ranted about how I am "always" doing that - talking about "stupid things like perspective-taking - who cares?!" I smiled at him, and he sneered back. We had a good time. As he left, he turned and said, "You know, you are not bad, for a Reform School warden..."

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