Hope is the thing...
"Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,"
It's no precise science, but I can usually pick out the students who sit in the back of the class, arms crossed, eyes glazed over, but quick with a defiant comeback. That's why I walked over to him this morning. He looked tough. He was slouched over at his desk, as close to the door as possible, his baggy shirt hanging over his thin frame and spiked hair gelled to the ends. I asked what he was working on and he explained that he was just starting the poem and was paraphrasing it.
I asked if he could show me one he had already finished, and he grinned and pulled out his paraphrasing of Emily Dickinson's "Hope is the thing..." He told me that he didn't understand the poem at first, and, no, he had never read a poem before this. Then, in his soft-spoken voice accented with Spanish, he started reading it to me line by line, explaining the images and ideas each line conveyed. "Hope is like a bird, something delicate that sits really close to the heart, the soul, and it keeps telling you something, to keep on hoping, but it doesn't use words, but you just have to trust it, to get the feeling of what it's saying, and it never stops telling you to keep on hoping, no matter what."
At a school with a 52% graduating rate, hope is just the thing. But so is hard work. Great job, Mr. Salinas. =)