ONE YEAR WITH AN ENGLISH TEACHER
DAY 1: September 8, 2008
A metaphor for the day...
As I was “making” my bed this morning – spreading the sheets and blanket out as smoothly and evenly as possible – it occurred to me that I could also “make” my teaching every day. Since I go through the process of arranging my bed after a night of rest (so that it will be waiting comfortably for me when the next night comes), I guess I should “make” my teaching after the classroom work is finished for the day and the scholars have gone home. I always straighten up the classroom before I leave, but perhaps I should take a few extra minutes to make certain that everything is in its exact place for the work of the following day. When it’s time for sleep, it’s comforting to see a shipshape bed waiting for me, and when the scholars enter my classroom each day, it might soothe them to see an utterly spick and span classroom.
The weather was perfectly lovely this morning, just ideal for scholars and teachers setting forth on a 9-month journey. There was an exquisite coolness in the air as we arrived at school, and a pleasant breeze was swirling among the school buildings. Not to be too boastful, but I thought my classroom looked particularly attractive when I walked in, an agreeable place for scholars to do their momentous work.
I noticed a lot of friendliness and cordiality today, but I couldn’t help but also notice the several scholars who seemed friendless and alone. I saw a few kids who, during any free time, appeared to be always by themselves. Most of the children were conversing affably in groups, but scattered around them were kids who were as solitary and silent as statues – kids with no friends whatsoever. I am dumbfounded when I wonder what life must be like for a 13-year-old who feels ignored and friendless.
This could be a major project for me this year – to simply notice these isolated kids, and by doing so perhaps to get to know them a bit better. If I just observed them from a distance as often as possible, not passing judgments on them or devising schemes to help them (at least not right away), but merely watching them and allowing their solitariness to sink in – perhaps then, by a process of osmosis, I might be able to understand what their delicate young lives are like.