For the first time in about nine months, I went back to the front of the classroom. No, I didn’t revert to my old middle school principal self, but Ann and I did spend a day working with all of the ninth grade Language Arts students at our town’s high school. It was an interesting experience signing in as a visitor when I’d had a key to the place just a few months ago.
A local teacher, Rachel Haider, contacted us about a month ago and asked if we’d be willing to be guest presenters as part of the freshmen class’ unit on journeys. Students are working toward a final unit essay question that asks when the journey is more important than the destination.
She felt that because we’ve taken a good number of trips we’d bring a unique perspective to the class. The fact that the students knew us might help make it a bit more real for them. We were happy to help.
We met with Ms. Haider, and the other 9th grade Language Arts teacher, Trent Framke. We decided that we’d choose some blog posts and students would pre-read at least one of them, write a 6-10 sentence summary of it, and then answer some questions like, “What was more important, the journey or the destination? Why?” “What did the Tegets learn on this journey?” and “What advice for your life can you draw from this blog post?” We’d then have this as a basis for our class discussions.
In case you’re curious, we chose six posts: “Five Things we learned judging the National Indian Taco Championships in Pawhuska,” “Music for the soul,” “A great pit stop for midwest travelers,” “Following our hearts to St. Kitts,” “Nebraska’s Nicest #1 — Innkeeper Jeanne Goetzinger,” and “Leaving I-80 for a better view.” We picked these because we felt they had a nice mix of local, state, national and international travel. We also hoped that every student might find something of interest somewhere in that mix of topics. Finally, we hoped that each post was unique enough that answers to the teachers’ questions wouldn’t necessarily be the same.
Well, let me just say that I’d forgotten how long a school day can be when you are presenting and re-presenting material seven times with three minutes of
break sprinting to the bathroom in between. Still, we had a wonderful day connecting with students, hearing their take on our articles, and answering their questions about our travels as well as journeys in general. And let me just say that I was impressed by the effort I saw from some of my former students on this assignment.
At the end of the day, we knew that we’d made a difference when one student found us in the hall and said that he hoped to travel one day. And we knew that students understood the importance of travel when they told us of the lessons they’d gleaned from our articles, lessons like, “you can find a little happiness anywhere,” and, “It’s important to get to know new people in your life because they can take you somewhere beautiful.”