My Big Week with Oprah

This week I was observed and evaluated by my Principal. Of course, this sent me into a tailspin of mythic proportions. How is it that a person can work as teacher for ten years and still come completely unglued at the thought of being assessed? At the core, I am still as vulnerable as a grade eight student asked to perform her slam poem in front of the class. And I know I am not alone in that.

This week has been, I think, an excellent reminder of how it feels to be in middle school. It’s not so hot!

The evaluation went well and it seems they’ll keep me.

I have a Safter story. Safter, the poet of the “Quentin Tarantino” poem, is one of my grade seven students and the source of some very big laughs. On Wednesday, during a work period on an independent reading project, Safter started to complain about his homework load. I reminded him (as any self-respecting middle school teacher would do) that I had given him this work period for his project… that I had changed my entire lesson plan for the week to give students more class time to complete their projects and maybe… just maybe… he wasn’t making the best use of his time… while he was SO busy complaining. He gave me that. I asked him what the big deal was and he said that his mom was taking him to see Oprah at the Liceu that night. The Liceu is a big theatre in Barcelona and I just about jumped out of my skin. Imagine… Ms. Oprah in my town! But perhaps I had heard him wrong… so I clarified. “Yeah… my mom has these tickets to see Oprah tonight at the Liceu. She’s really excited… but I have to get my homework done at school. So I start scheming immediately… maybe Safter isn’t really that interested in hearing Oprah speak. I know his mom… she’s a scientist and a university professor; perhaps she would like some grown-up company this evening. How could Oprah be in my city without my hearing a word about it? Must get tickets… must get tickets!
I hear Sara, the student who sits beside Safter, say, “OPERA.”
“Pardon?” says Safter.
“You are going to see the opera at the Liceu.”
“Yeah. That’s what I said. Oprah.”
“O-P-E-R-A. Not Oprah!” Sarah corrects Safter with disdain.
“Okay. Whatever. Opera.”

So much for my big Barcelona-brush with Oprah.

This morning I remembered to check with Safter about the OPERA. “The first half sucked,” he said, “but the second half was really sad. I almost cried.”

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