edu180atl: betsy metcalf 10.18.11
As a student and I read aloud The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, we come across the word, “phantom.” This junior boy starts humming under his breath the lyrics from Phantom of the Opera. I pause a moment. I hesitate to acknowledge what he is singing for fear of embarrassing him and potentially straining our relationship. Instead, when I mention the musical, my student immediately lights up.
He recounts evenings at the Fox Theater with his grandmother and the shows he has seen, including his favorite, Phantom. We share a moment comparing musicals, theater, what we like and what we don’t like. These are important memories to him and I was allowed in to that part of his life, which before that quiet hum, I never knew. In hearing the tune under his breath, I gained a clearer understanding of this young man, his childhood, and who he is.
Sometimes the things students say in a whisper, under their breath, or nonchalantly, can give us a better picture of who they are, what they’re dealing with that day, what is eating away at them, or simply a tune that reminds them of childhood. As a tutor (no longer a teacher managing a classroom full of students) I relish the fact that I’m not plagued with a desk full of papers to grade and twenty students simultaneously demanding my attention. So I can listen to each individual and I want to embrace those moments started by a simple whisper.
A former history teacher, Betsy Metcalf works at Lovett School as a tutor, Assist. Director of Sustainability & JV Lacrosse coach. She also writes www.glutenfreedomatlanta.com