Thursday, May 20, 2010

Teachable moments

My classroom is a not unpleasant mixture of chaos and order. My students sit in various degrees of studiousness as I circle their desks, prodding them into completing some of their work. I push their buttons, they push back. I force them to stretch their limits, they help me to stretch mine. I wiggle my way past the walls they put up, protecting themselves, to become someone that they feel will protect them if need be. They open up, we share, they confide, and with the trust that is built comes their ability to try, their desire to please and their ability to learn from me. They touch my heart, I reach out to them. I give hugs freely, despite the warning to "never, ever touch them". I high-five and fist bump my way through the day, offering condolence with a pat on the back and reassurance with a brush of their shoulder. What if no one else today hugs these kids? What if no one else believes in them? How will they then believe in themselves? What if I am the only smiling face they see today?

If they were to ask me their grades, or to locate a paper on the pig-sty which is my desk I would have to think of some excuse as to why I can’t find it. However, if they were to ask me about literature, life, the world, I would respond with enthusiasm and concern for their overall well-being. Some things I think are more important than others.

I want them to develop of love of reading, or at least not be apathetic to it, at least not hate it. I want them to enjoy the written word, I want them to find pleasure in writing their own words, power in writing. I want them to go out into the real world with some dignity, some assurance that they are prepared to be people. My concern is for the choices that they will make, the rules they will break, and the people whose lives they will have an impact on. I want them to realize that the world is a big, big place, much bigger than where they currently are. I want them to seize opportunities to spread their wings. My hope is they will also know that the world is so small, that what they do has an impact, that where they go matters, that who they leave behind matter too. I want to be remembered as that “teacher who cared”. Even if late in their lives they don’t remember my name, or what I looked like I want to be a part of the conversations that start like: “My high school English teacher…” I want to make a difference in the lives of my students.

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