ONE YEAR WITH AN ENGLISH TEACHER
Day 46, November 9, 2007
Today I "stepped back", and I'm glad I did. It happened at the Pfizer Veterans Day ceremony, when the students were told they could have the refreshments that were on a table near them. Before I could step in and try to organize the distribution of drinks and pastries, the kids (all 70 of them) quickly crowded around the table and started grabbing whatever they could. It was not a particularly orderly or mannerly scene, and the thought came to me that I should step forward and organize the kids into lines of some sort. However, something caused me to think again, and, instead of stepping forward and taking charge of the situation, I stepped back and watched. I let go of the idea of jumping in to impose order on the students, and instead just observed what was happening. I guess the hunch came to me that the students would manage this situation themselves, that they would not misbehave, that somehow they would enjoy the food without being messy or rude. As I watched, the seemingly chaotic crowd of students rather quickly thinned out and settled down as the refreshments were picked up. Before even one minute had passed, all was fairly calm again. The table was empty (and not particularly untidy), the kids were enjoying their food, and there was no sign of crumbs on the floor. Like disturbed pond water, the situation had slowly settled down as I watched. If I had stepped forward and intervened, the "pond" might have been stirred up even more than it was. Of course, it's not always possible in a teaching situation, but, in this instance, I'm glad I stepped back and let "nature" take its course. These children are naturally good people, and this morning, as I quietly observed them, their goodness proved to be more powerful than appetite and disorder.