(photo montages by Cora Kobischka)
This was not an assignment. One of my students, unusually perceptive, began asking me how I was feeling during class. On my face, she read the thoughts of confusion and disappointment, in myself and the students, in us. She saw me seeing them, thinking about how to improve our collective experience. Unable to explain all of this, I began giving her metaphors for the classroom experience. Every so often, she’d say, “Mister, give me another one.” These mid-class conversations lead me to write these poems, which I shared with her. A few days later, she came back and said, “So I’m almost finished, but I have some questions.” Again, this was not an assignment, so I was surprised to see my pages divided into two columns, her careful handwriting matching my metaphors with her side of the experience. What you see here is a small selection of our work—mine on the left, hers on the right—which we’re still revising and growing, trying to understand what it means to be in a classroom, participating in a class, when that class can be so many things.
Read more about this project at http://bit.ly/imdisagree
Brendan Gillett is an ELA teacher the International High School at Prospect Heights.