Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Teaching and storytelling
I am a teacher by day. I rise at the 'butt crack" of dawn, imbibe a decaffeinated beverage, and head to school. Often, I've wondered if I made a difference in the lives of my students. Thousands of students have crossed my path. Many of them have maintained contact with me, but some have drifted away. Sometimes, these former students and I run into each other at the many festivals we hold in Louisiana. Several have visited me since I moved to another school. Many always sought my advice on college essays. When I tell them about my nascent writing career, they respond with enthusiasm; facebook and myspace have allowed me to reconnect with many of them. They are some of my biggest fans, but I have often wondered what they thought of me as a teacher. Recently, one of them sent me an invitation to join my own fan club--not as a fan of Viola Russell the writer but of me as the teacher. They remember that I crawled on the floor as a recalcitrant camel when I taught T. S. Eliot's "Journey of the Magi." They remember that I burst into the room laughing hysterically when I emulated the witches in Macbeth. Maybe all teachers are inherent storytellers, and that is the key to my success. In my heart, I now know I helped them, shaped them. What I also now know is that they also have helped me become the writer I am. In teaching all of them, particularly the kids in my now dead school, I have perfected my storytelling.