Tea and Tea-ching

One of the great things about my job is that I work with students who go on to become talented, devoted English teachers. Repeatedly, I have the strange but wonderful experience of encountering an accomplished teacher who was once my student. Shoushan was in my class just last spring, but now she's teaching 9th graders full-time. She's also a blogger--check out her blog and make a comment so that she'll be encouraged to blog more!

Tonight, Shoushan and I met at Teazer World Tea Market, an independent tea shop with a big city feel. It's a funky space with wooden ceiling fans that rotate lazily, cloth lanterns emitting a fuzzy light, and concrete floors. Tonight the walls were adorned with interesting photographs--one was a black and white photograph of a bathtub fused to the back of a rhinoceros. Strangely compelling.

I'm not a big tea drinker, but this was one of the first cold nights of the fall, perfect weather for my orange ginger mint herbal tea. I usually need a lot of honey or sugar in my tea, but this had such a nice flavor that, on John's suggestion, I didn't put in any sweetener in at all. The combination of ginger and mint created a nice tingly feeling in my mouth. Shoushan's chai reminded her of the tea she drinks at home. We were both quite pleased with our choices. One thing I like about Teazers is the friendly employees who are willing to make suggestions and guide tea novices like me. Find this guy, I think Nigel is his name. He's the one who knows the menu inside and out. John was also really helpful and entertaining with his story of working in Starbucks, living in Istanbul for a year, and returning to Fresno unable to work in a place like Starbucks again.

Shoushan already has great stories about teaching: the kids who confide in her, the student who questioned why anyone has to take "English" classes if they already speak "English," and the ways that she encourages her students to become readers. Last semester, Shoushan was the kind of student who went beyond what was assigned to explore Shelfari, create a blog, or read a book just because I mentioned it in class. She's independent, smart, fiesty, funny, and good hearted. She's a great example of how learning comes from within . . . teachers don't impart knowledge, we share what we know and hope that our students will be interested and motivated enough to explore further and deeper, internalizing concepts in their own unique ways.

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