Mr. Babington is a life-changing teacher. He has an inexplicable ability to elevate the vocabulary of everyone around him, simply by virtue of his presence. Even in his casual opening remarks at the start of a school day, Mr. Babington manages to bring the beauty of the English language forward, unfurling phrases that command our reverence for complex-compound sentences. Most students in his class agree that we could listen to him talk for hours, never tiring of the linguistic feats he weaves into every lesson.
Of course, Mr. Babington would never allow that. The beauty of the English language, he would argue, is best harnessed through practice. We practice through "gratitude poems," reflective essays, and rich group discussions. When correcting us, he brings a sense of humor that helps us laugh at ourselves--and the peculiarities of this medium through which we communicate. When bidding us to think more deeply about a given topic or text, Mr. Babington coaxes rather than prods. He leads by example, embracing multiple perspectives and combining them in ways that generate new insights.
Recently, I was stuck on a project Mr. Babington had assigned. My late-evening, New Year-adjusting mind couldn't quite wrap itself around the instructions he had given members of our class. The task required a playful blending of creative writing with demonstrated proficiency in grammatical concepts. Out of the gate, my attempt fell flat. Then, my second attempt fell flat. By the time I submitted my final version, I knew it was less than my best work. I reached out to Mr. Babington for help:
Dear Mr. Babington,
I have really struggled with the poem assignment. Last week was not my best start to the year in English. Looking again at the assignment I sent in on Friday, I realize it had errors reflecting my lack of understanding. I am committed to mastering this material. It may take me some time. I will try to resubmit a corrected version to schoology. Corrections to my Friday assignment are attached here.
Thank you for your patience and support.
Mr. Babington responded with the assurances I needed: Assuring me that my work had merit, assuring me that I understood the concepts more than I realized, assuring me that I could reach out for help from him at any time.
To be a student in Mr. Babington's class means having the opportunity to not only step into the full glory of all that eighth-grade English can offer, but also the opportunity to find and tap into hidden stores of self-confidence. He is the best English teacher I've ever known. I am grateful to be his student.