Slice of Life Tuesday: Class Guest

Valentine’s Day is a TOUGH day to be a teacher. There’s a certain…shall we say…energy to the day, similar to the morning of Halloween and just shy of the last day before winter break.

It’s a mood.

So no teacher in their right mind would schedule any sort of big-deal instruction on Valentine’s Day. Certainly not in the final minutes leading up to Valentine’s Day parties, right?

But when you’ve got a group of incredibly curious learners,
And they’ve been learning big things
About the Middle Ages*
And Beowulf
And Old English
And the chance comes
For them to interact with someone
(Ken Hope,
grandpa of a student,
middle ages enthusiast,

on the MacArthur Grants
and all around pretty
smart and interesting guy)

Who’s studied all of it his whole
And that someone can chat with them
On Valentine’s Day,
You jump
At the chance.

It involved some finagling. I had to work out scheduling so my students at both schools could attend the zoom. I collected student questions to guide the conversation. I had to make sure I had someone to supervise the class since cloning is not quite yet a thing. I had to make sure all of the technology did what it was supposed to do when it was supposed to do it.

The magic hour arose. Students at both schools got themselves together after a flurry of greetings, forgotten supplies, and general post-lunch-settlings-in. Our guest was introduced by his granddaughter, who just so happens to love him to pieces.

Friends, he held us spellbound for a solid HOUR. He had taken all of the student questions and expanded them into a slide show, complete with historical maps and pictures from his own travels and experiences in Europe. Students sat rapt as he opined on Medieval literature, history, arts and architecture, culture and religion. Pencils furiously scribbled notes to record all of the new learning taking place.

A reading of Beowulf, in the Old English? Yes, please!
We learned that Medieval architecture was serious business. And some of it…not so much!
Architects and artists, even back then, had a sense of humor.

This was a lesson for the books. The kids were buzzing with excitement as they left. I can’t wait for later in the week when we come back together to talk about what we’ve learned.

And who knows? Maybe one, or maybe more, of my students will decide that they, too, would like to be a Middle Ages enthusiast. Maybe one, or maybe more, of my students will realize that they, too, can choose something they love and learn about it all through their own live-long life.

A teacher can dream.

*Yes. My kids are learning about the Middle Ages. And trying their hands at Old English, and Beowulf, and Middle English, and Canterbury tales (just the Knight’s tale, friends!), and Shakespeare, and Noah Webster. All of it. Because kids deserve to wrestle with big ideas and difficult stuff. Call it another one of my “soapboxes.”

Published by Lainie Levin

Mom of two, full-time teacher, wife, daughter, sister, friend, and holder of a very full plate

10 thoughts on “Slice of Life Tuesday: Class Guest

  1. This is great! A testament to you and your guest speaker that your planning and his expertise kept the students enthralled for an hour. I am sure that your students are anxiously awaiting the time they get together again discuss all that they learned. A love for the Middle Ages is definitely appropriate for Valentine’s Dat.

    1. Thanks! I’m more the winder-upper-and-letter-goer. The kids are the truly amazing ones. Ken was amazingly well-prepared and he was great with the kids.

  2. You know what I adore about all of this? That none of it was considered above their heads. It was made approachable for their level and they loved it. Yes, they will understand more of Beowulf, Shakespeare et al as they mature, but when they want to learn it now,it, you give it to them now. I find myself again wishing there were more teachers like you when I was coming up. Kudos to you!

    1. Thanks, Raivenne. I appreciate your support and validation. That’s exactly what I believe. Just give them a glimpse of what’s out there for them to learn. Let them experience the joy and wonder and fascination of big ideas and big things. Everyone deserves it.

  3. This is so cool! What a lovely way to spend part of Valentine’s day!
    There’s something about a good guest speaker, isn’t there? Even over Zoom … so glad you worked to give your students this opportunity! In both schools – wow. 🙂

    1. Thanks! It was a feat, for sure. And yes! I’m so glad we could have a guest speaker. It makes me wish I did it more often. It’s such a powerful thing for the kids!

  4. I. Am. Swooning! It’s one thing to teach students such challenging content and huge bonus points when they are enthralled with it. What a treat to engage with the student’s grandfather. And the technology worked! Kudos to you and your students. This sounds like a memorable experience.

  5. Fascinating!! I’d have been in my element there! To this day I can recite the opening lines of the Prologue to the Canterbury Tales. The things that stick with us…the kids will remember it for, like, forever.

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