Friday, May 18, 2012

Where Are They Now? Another Teaching Year Comes to a Close

Teaching.  Last week two of my teaching commitments came to a close.  As I was packing up my class supplies I began to reflect upon the year. I get so sentimental, so easily.  I realized this year how much I love teaching, not just teaching my kids, but others.  I really do love it!  Perhaps this is why I'm so passionate about homeschooling.  I love learning and presenting material in a way that hopefully appeals to students.

Reaching the end of yet another year has given me cause to reflect on my brief experience in the public school arena.  The first kids I taught are now in their 30's!!  How can that be!  I wonder what became of them?  What happened to those little 4th graders?  Also, when I look at the precious gifts given to me by dear Ukranian students and their families, I wonder if they made it in their new found country, America.  What happened to Yuri, Alexei, Nazar, Ludmila, and so many more?  Did they embrace the freedom they were seeking?  Did the kids who struggled in 4th grade, make it through and find a love for learning?  I often wonder where they are now.  Teachers spend a year with kids, pour into them, and then the kids have to move on.  Next grade, next teacher, next year.

Little Nazar, Travis, Olga, Travis, Antonio...1992

Yuri, Ludmila, Alexander, Ludmila's Momma (one of my favorite families), Roman

Gifts from Students

When the end of the year rolls around, I also question, "Did I do what I was supposed to do?  Was I able to impart on my students (my own kids, most years) skills that would not only teach them something, but build their character?"  I remember my first year teaching.  At the end of the year I sat in my classroom and cried.  I asked myself if I had done my job.  Were the kids leaving my class ready for the next year? I still wonder the same thing with my own kids.  Teaching is a humbling occupation.

This year, the classes I was blessed to teach were small which allowed all students to have an opportunity to share and participate.  In these book study/literature classes I chose books that were award winners and/or notable books with accompanying study guides available from Progeny Press.  I know every book may not have appealed to every student, but I hope each student learned something new through the process and expanded their understanding of history, literature, grammar, arts & crafts, geography, world cultures, and of course…cooking!

For our last class, one of my younger students requested that we make Johnny Cakes once again.  We made them when we studied The Drinking Gourd and apparently they were a popular hit.  So they wouldn't feel left out, we also made the tasty corn meal pancakes in the older class.  Of course I had to give them a little Johnny cake history before we began.

Johnny Cake history:

Johnny cakes are a cornmeal flatbread, similar to a pancake.  They are also known as corn pone, Shawnee cakes (sounds a bit like Johnny cake), journey cakes, jonikin, ash cake, hoe cake, and variations of these names.

The exact origin of this flatbread is not known, but some historians think they were introduced to the Pilgrim settlers by the Pawtuxet Indians who taught them how to grind the corn making the cornmeal.  

The ingredients are simple:  cornmeal, water (or milk), salt, and a sweetener like honey, if desired.

We greased our griddle with butter or bacon grease, depending on what the kids wanted.  We also sprinkled the Johnny cakes with cinnamon and sugar.

Our recipe is:
Printer Friendly Recipe

1 1/2 cup corn meal (this time we used corn flour from Bob's Red Mill)
1 cup boiling water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar, if desired
1/2 to 1 cup of milk
2 tablespoons butter or bacon grease

1.  Bring water to boil in the saucepan.  Pour water over cornmeal
2.  Add salt, sugar, and 1/2 cup milk in bowl.  Stir well.  Continue to add additional milk and additional water if necessary until batter has consistency thicker than normal pancake batter, but can be spread in pan to make cakes.
3.  Melt 2 tablespoons butter in skillet or you can use a griddle.  Cook over medium heat 4-5 minutes on each side.  Cook until edges are lightly browned.  Turn gently with spatula.
4.  We served sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar, but the book recommends molasses, or syrup.  Enjoy!

As we close the chapter on this year, and the classes we participated in, I can't help but wonder what will become of these students.  Will one of them become an author, or a professional ice skater, or an actor, or a doctor.  Hopefully, one day we will meet again.

Thanks to all for a fabulous year!  You are a blessing!

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