Monday, January 11, 2010

Quote discipline Day 1

One player practicing sportsmanship is far better than fifty preaching it.

This is a lovely statement to start off a new discipline! Naturally, this statement applies to ever so much more than sportsmanship.

Oh, how easy it is to fall into the habit of preaching without practising, I'm learning. At work, I admire my supervisors who demonstrate sportsmanship, because as I take on more and more responsibility, I'm discovering that it is so easy not to. A tragic afternoon my last week in Timor Leste, of which I am much ashamed, comes to mind. I was not sportsmanlike to the colleague I was supervising. And my own supervisor was so thoroughly gracious to me (she writes with head bowed).

On the other hand, this quote is making feeling pretty good about my new quote blogging experiment! Ten years ago (groan), I was a newbie high school teacher at an inner city honours school - Baltimore City College, the castle on a hill with the (un)inspiring schools colours of orange and black - just like the city's baseball team.

My teaching mentor had taught me to always start class out with a silent writing activity - it was good for discipline, she said. I thought it was also a great idea for getting some writing practise under my students' belt, and for inspiring creativity. So when my students arrived at class each day, a quote was waiting for them on the blackboard. Students were supposed to write a minimum of [I-forget-how-many] sentences in their journals, inspired by the quote.

Often, the quote was related to the subject matter we would be discussing that day. Just as often, it wasn't. My favourite days were when I put a quote up in Portuguese, or some other indecipherable code. Students complained, and I insisted that the important thing was that they take some inspiration and write.

I made a milllion and ten mistakes during my two years of teaching, but I stand by that pedagogical call. It was a good idea, and finally, a decade later, I'm not just preaching it but I'm practising it.

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