Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Ode to the Ode

I had a guest poet scheduled to visit my class yesterday. The timing was perfect-- poetry and Valentine's Day?-- and this particular poet and I have worked together for the last 4 years. Even so, I still had a nagging feeling that something was going to go wrong.

Later when I told the story, a colleague of mine said, "I'm going to start asking you for lottery numbers! You were right about this; you're usually right about the snow..." and she continued with a list of other accurate predictions I've made over the years. I liked that. I like thinking I have a little bit of a sixth sense, but as far as the lottery goes? I predict I'm not going to win it anytime soon.

At any rate, prescience is of no value unless you act upon it, and in this particular case, I did not. 8:15 AM found me desperately texting my poet buddy while making small talk with my first period class about how great our visiting artist was going to be. At 8:20 I kicked into emergency mode and began improvising a lesson about odes. Who knows where that came from? It certainly helped that I own a copy of Neruda's Odes to Common Things, and the Valentine's Day angle made things easier, too, but I truly believe that the key ingredient to what turned out to be a very successful activity was our collective focus on the positive.

For me this has been a tough year with a challenging group of kids, so the opportunity for each of us to express our appreciation for those things, both large and small, that make us happy, that make our lives a little easier, was priceless. Yesterday was a very good day.

Post Script: The poet overslept. He called at 9:30 to apologize profusely, and we rescheduled for tomorrow. I do have a back-up plan, but I don't think I'll need it.

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