Friday, April 1, 2011

A is for Alacrity

Alacrity, a cheerful eagerness. Noun. As in, the dog ran with alacrity. As in, the man demonstrated great alacrity, even on his first day.

I gave my students--back when I had students--a list of vocabulary words each week. Students defined the word and used it in a sentence. (I started out calling them "SAT words" until an end-of-quarter evaluation pointed out that none of them were in high school anymore.) One student combined all sentences in one unified paragraph, beginning something like this: "My girlfriend opened the door with alacrity, but I quickly saw that the situation was anything but mundane..." I also received sentences that indicated the student had no idea what the word meant or how it should be used: "She felt ostensibly about hurting him"; "He will extricate in the morning." What??? But for the most part, sentences were correct and well-conceived; it wasn't a difficult exercise.

There are things I miss about teaching: those rare moments when all the students are engaged or when a student asks a difficult question that I know how to answer; the knowledge that I am constantly accountable to thirty, fifty, or seventy students; being able to discuss literary works that I love (Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily," Hemingway's "Soldier's Home," Amy Bloom's "By and By") and hear new interpretations, new connections. And I miss many of the students. They could be hilarious, intelligent, and resourceful in ways that constantly surprised me.

Of course, there are many things I don't miss: for every eager student in the front, taking notes, raising hands, there were three in the back, their bags perched on the table blocking the view of a cell phone or a textbook from another, harder class. For every student who read the assigned story was another who didn't. And even though I knew better, I took much of that personally.

So it is with alacrity that I've tackled this new phase of my life. It is with alacrity that I approach this A to Z April Challenge. And it is with alacrity that I become a writer.


Summaiyah Hyder said...

great post! Some time after I graduated from high school, I wrote a blog post thanking my teachers and then sent some of my previous teachers the blog post - I know how under appreciated they are.

I'm doing the challenge for the first time myself.

August said...

Thanks, and I bet those teachers appreciated it!

Toby Neal said...

Love it! Stopped by for A to Z, and glad I did!

Marsha A. Moore said...

I taught high school biology for 17 years and do miss my students, but not the paperwork at all! Nice to meet you, August!

August said...

Thanks for stopping by!