A Labor of Love

From my journal: August 1, 2021 Newbury Park, California

“Having our garage sale on Saturday…found so many books I had packed away…will sell some but have to keep some school ones…though no longer teaching can’t part with them!”

I was tickled pink when I recently came across one of my favorite language arts related texts. Shelved up in my studio office closet, cheek by jowl it sat with books I use for tutoring. Without batting an eyelash, I opened it and had a field day!  The book? The Scholastic Dictionary of Idioms!  Who doesn’t like a group of words that when strung together make absolutely no sense whatsoever?  Me, for one!

Well-worn copy of my idiom book

I felt butterflies in my stomach remembering teaching these quirky sayings to fifth graders.  I’m a dyed-in-the-wool word lover, so I knew I’d get a kick out of sharing them. I got into the swing of things, by first helping my students get their feet wet with an easy as pie phrase like  “the sky’s the limit”.  Knowing the sky is vast and wide, they didn’t need to read between the lines to understand that one right off the bat. Other idioms were more off the beaten path, really Greek to them, so they required more explaining.  Still, some were so over their heads and off-the-wall, the only way to get a handle on their meanings, was to draw pictures. 

There is no limit to what you can do and achieve!

Having to learn twenty-five of them, was nothing to sneeze it.  Although most students put their best foot forward, there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to making sense of things that seem like a bolt out of the blue. But the bottom line was idioms were part of our curriculum so we had to roll with the punches. I was hopeful that when tested each phrase would ring a bell and they would be able to explain the meaning right off the top of their heads. 

After hitting the books for a few weeks, then letting my students kick up their heels by acting these sayings out, we could see the light at the end of the tunnel. But, I had to remember that Rome was not built in a day and just because I have been head over heels about language since I was knee-high to a grasshopper, some kids were still having a hard time make heads or tails of these phrases.  

When test time came, most students pulled out all the stops and were quick on the draw. They appeared to be on cloud nine, on the top of the world, and even walking on air as they gave me high fives turning in their papers. Most passed with flying colors and the ones who were up a creek without a paddle, well, they got to turn over a new leaf and have another chance at red-letter-day with a re-take.  When it comes to learning anything, that’s the way the ball bounces. What is a piece of cake for some, may not be for others.  And as a teacher, my main goal always was, to instill the love of learning in my students.  Because as we all know, learning never ends and we also know…the show must go on!

Did you find all 47 idioms? Hope so!

2 thoughts on “A Labor of Love

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