Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Back in the Classroom

Last night I did something I haven't done in 20 months (yes, I count them!). I stood in a classroom at the library and taught an English class to a group of adults whose native languages are not English. The topic for the month of January is health, so I decided to focus on nutrition and diet. I had so much fun, I floated out of the classroom at the end.

Three of the women had been my students in the past, so it was a wonderful reunion. Twice I had had to leave teaching: in 2006 when I was first diagnosed with leukemia, and then again in May 2007 when I relapsed. My return to teaching was a homecoming of sorts. It was also another milestone on my road to recovery. If I can teach in a public library, I figure I've reached a new level of wellness.

I never intended to be a teacher. I doubt I could teach children because they bring out the W.C. Fields in me. Teaching adults who are highly motivated is easy and fun. I identify with their struggle to learn a new language in adulthood, as I had when I found myself living in a Spanish-speaking country in my 40's. I also love language, and playing with it. Here are some of the quotes I put on the board last night.
  • One should eat to live, not live to eat.
  • I'm on a seafood diet. I see food and I eat it.
  • Stressed spelled backwards is desserts.
  • Bigger snacks, bigger slacks.
Not one of my students knew the meaning of the word slacks. We native English speakers assume it's a common word, but it's not. Homophones (seafood, see food) can be a minefield for new language learners. More than once I've tripped upon the Spanish word papa, which depending on the syllable you stress means daddy or potato.

I'm teaching again tonight, although this is only a substitute gig, not a permanent return. I've asked my class to come in prepared to share a recipe, something easy to make that's healthy. I hope they tell us how to make foods from their own countries. If there's time, I may explain how to make granola.

I like these comebacks. I crawled through part of the trip, then shuffled. But last night I stood there tall, smiling, and full of energy.


Ann said...

Keep pushing forward. You are simply amazing.

Ronni Gordon said...

Hurray for comebacks!

Sounds like it was a lot of fun. Keep up the good work.

Susan said...

I've been reading and cheering for you for awhile now, following your blog since my husband was diagnosed with leukemia and now moves toward a transplant. Your latest post is an inspiration and made me feel something like pride for you, despite our one-sided Internet connection. You go girl!

Sue S said...

It was really good to have you back - just like old times! I know the students were so happy to see you as well.

Anonymous said...


nora from LLS board. are you ok? no updates for a week keep me worry. or i hope you are busy teaching. :)