ONE YEAR WITH AN ENGLISH TEACHER
Day 91, Monday, February 4, 2008
While I was busy teaching a class of 8th graders, I happened to notice Stacey hunched over several pieces of paper, carefully writing on them. It took me a moment to realize that she was the "absentee helper" this week, the student whose job it is to fill out homework slips for anyone who's absent. There were several kids out today, and Stacey had at least three slips in front of her, all filled with her careful handwriting. It was just a passing glimpse as I got the kids started on the lesson for the day, but it stayed with me. Looking back, I see how hard Stacey was working, how seriously she took her little job. I wonder how many other industrious and painstaking students I overlook during the day. How many of my students concentrate, focus, and zero-in on a job during my class, but don't get noticed by the stressed and preoccupied teacher??
Danielle came to class today with the sourest look on her face. As my mother would say, she looked like she had lost her last friend -- which perhaps she had. She simmered in her unhappiness for the first part of the class, paying attention and dutifully doing what I asked of the students, but doing it in a cloud of gloom. I made a mental note to speak to her after class about it, but scarcely a moment later I looked over to see her blissfully smiling. Billy had apparently said something to her that lifted her misery as though it was the lightest of sheets. For the remainder of the class, she was a buoyant and involved student. How fast the moods of my students (and all of us) change -- like the lightest of clouds shifting and passing away in the sky!
In one class, most of the kids did not notice one of the directions on an assignment. "It's all right," I said with a smile. "You can notice the directions next time." I'm glad I said that, and I'm glad I was smiling. It was the right thing to do.