Thursday, May 1

"Don't Interrupt Us!"

Teaching is deeply personal.  To say it is my career seems dry and, frankly, misrepresentative.  I can leave my classroom, but I very rarely feel, "clocked out," as teaching has forced me to view, and feel, the world a little differently.  

And I think one of the best gifts you can receive is a chance to look at the world through a new lens.  It's one of the reasons I love writing and reading literature- when I step away, life is cast in a new light.  Things shift and become whole [er], though the gaps were unapparent before.  

Teaching provokes a range of emotions, from elation to devastation, and everything in between.  And the emotional scale tips back and forth, back and forth all day.  I mourn the students that give up, that dismiss their education, that focus more on negativity than positivity, that mistreat other students, that feel alone.  But I rejoice with the students that realize they're good learners, that reach out to those who are alone, that challenge themselves, that take risks, that smile because they feel that life is good.  

I constantly second-guess myself and often feel wildly inadequate, because the truth is: I will never work a day perfectly in my life.  

But that will be the beautiful challenge of my existence.  And if I can witness more moments like the following, it will have been worth it.


Yesterday I did some power writing with my students.  I gave the class topics loosely related to their book and they wrote as much as they could, as fast as they could, as well as they could for two-minute spurts.  

When my famously loud fourth period began, I was awestruck.  The only sound filling my classroom was the wild scratching of pencils and pens.  [No small miracle, I assure you.]

After my students completed a few rounds, they selected one of their entries to revise.  They then shared their work with their tables.  I heard echoes of, "Whoa…that was really good!" and, "Read that last part again, I want to remember it."  When their voices dwindled, I asked whether anyone wanted to nominate a reader from their group.  Several eager hands shot into the air.  

The first nominee was a shy, sweetly quiet student.  I asked whether he'd be willing to share, and, to my delight, he nodded.

He cleared his throat and smoothed his sheet of paper.  Then, softly, he began reading.  The class sat in quiet rapture- had anyone spoke, the boy's voice would have been enveloped.  Striking, unexpected words spilled out and I watched awe register on his peer's faces.  

But then, only a few lines in, the intercom blared.  Mrs. Gull?  Can you please send Rachel to the-

That's when one of my students bellowed, "DO NOT INTERRUPT US!  WE WERE LISTENING TO A MASTERPIECE!"

…and while I feel deeply sorry for the blameless, unsuspecting secretary, I will forever cherish that moment because the subtle grin on my shy writer's face was the most beautifully endearing thing.

When the intercom quieted, the student finished his reading, and the class erupted: they clapped, snapped their fingers, and whooped in unanimous support of his words.

And I think in that moment he realized something: his words were powerful.  


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