A new job fell into my lap this week. It's not instead of my NCTE job, but in addition to, as it is only two hours a week. I am helping with the writing lab portion of a college course designed for dual-enrolled high school students.
I started yesterday and even though I am a bit overwhelmed at being thrown into it, today seemed to go better. I'm still not entirely sure what my role is since I meet with the professor who's running the class on Tuesday. So I have been improvising. Today I gave the students a writing survey to gauge their attitudes towards writing and get a feel for their abilities. But my favorite part of the period came toward the end when I was talking to an exchange student in the class who is from Bulgaria. She had mentioned that she will have to repeat 11th grade when she goes back to Bulgaria next year and so I asked her what is the benefit of coming to the U.S. if you have to do an extra year of high school. Her answer was quite mature and very telling. She said, "I can't learn English in Bulgaria the way I can learn it here. Plus, life is all about experiences. I've traveled abroad before but no more than one or two weeks. Living in another country makes me appreciate different cultures but also my own culture."
She is much more mature at sixteen than I was at twenty-three. I didn't appreciate my experience living in Germany with my husband until I moved back home. Now I wish I could go back and have a do-over.
While we were talking, one of the boys in the class who has already proven to be a bit of a class clown came up next to me. At first I thought he had a question or was going to ask to go to the bathroom, but he continued to stand there as we were talking. I eventually turned to him and asked if he needed anything, but instead of asking to go to the bathroom he said that he thinks learning about other cultures is really interesting and he wants to to travel some day. The maturity and seriousness he revealed to me in that conversation made me remember why I love teaching in the first place: because kids will surprise you when you least expect it.