For Whom The Bell Rings

Lang Kanaī starts the new semester at Parker


Photo credit: Sam Forst

English teacher Lang Kanaï poses for a photo in his classroom.

During a week that brings a chaotic end to the first semester‭, ‬some people are finding orderly new beginnings‭. ‬This includes Lang Kanaï‭, ‬an English teacher and renaissance man‭, ‬who is beginning his journey in the Parker community filling in for Upper School English Teacher Stacey Gibson while she is taking a semester-long sabbatical‭.‬

Kanaï most recently worked as an English teacher at The Latin School of Chicago‭. ‬Previously‭, ‬he has taught in the Washington‭, ‬D‭.‬C‭. ‬public school system at an independent school and a university in Indonesia‭. ‬Kanaï first got to know Parker as a substitute teacher earlier in the first semester‭.‬

Kanaï has a background in music‭, ‬studying it in college and playing multiple instruments‭. ‬However‭, ‬he found teaching to be his passion and got his graduate degree in Education‭. ‬This new semester and new start at Parker will come with its challenges‭, ‬notably‭, ‬building relationships with students‭.‬

“I think it’s important to recognize that I’m coming in in the middle of a school year‭, ‬and there is already a classroom culture that has been established‭,‬”‭ ‬Kanaï said‭. ‬“I need to do some relationship-building before jumping really seriously into academically rigorous work‭.‬”

Beyond getting to know the students‭, ‬Kanaï recognizes that he needs to familiarize himself with the coursework Gibson created‭. ‬

“I’ve sort of been given free rein to take what I want and make things new as I see fit‭,‬”‭  ‬Kanaï said‭. ‬“It’s really the best of both worlds because I have a lot of freedom‭, ‬but there are also a lot of resources for me as well if I need‭ ‬to use them‭. ‬And obviously Ms‭. ‬Gibson is a really experienced teacher with a lot of material to offer‭.‬”

As Kanaï gets to know the syllabus and the students‭, ‬his pupils will have to do some learning of their own‭.‬

“I think this should be lit‭,‬”‭ ‬Lincoln Hamid‭, ‬a sophomore in Gibson/Kanaï’s World Literature class‭, ‬said‭. ‬“Even though I really enjoyed having Ms‭. Gibson as a teacher‭, ‬it’s going to be a great opportunity to learn‭, ‬and I think it would be cool to have a new perspective‭.‬”

Hamid believes that Kanaï coming in as a new teacher in the second semester is nothing new for many Parker students‭. ‬“I mean‭, ‬it’s always tough having a new teacher‭, ‬but you just get used to it after a few weeks‭,‬”‭ ‬Hamid said‭. ‬“I think as a sophomore‭, ‬I’ve already had a lot of new teachers‭. ‬I went through something similar last year when Ms‭. ‬Webster took over Ms‭. ‬Lesinski’s class in the second semester‭.‬”

“I’ve had new teachers in the past‭, ‬and I’m pretty optimistic about everything going okay‭,‬”‭ Birdie Goldblatt, a student of Kanaï, said‭.‬

Although this transition may take some effort on both ends‭, ‬both student and teacher seem to be hopeful‭. ‬“The students seem really engaged in their classes in an authentic way‭. ‬It’s really exciting and energizing to see that as an educator‭. ‬That’s all you can ask for‭. ‬That’s ideal‭,‬”‭ ‬Kanaï said‭.‬

The only thing left to fret over can best be summed up by Hamid’s words‭: ‬“I think the big question is‭, ‬will he change the seating arrangement‭?‬”