Day 123, Wednesday, April 15, 2009
This morning I realized, once again, how fortunate I am to be teaching such trustworthy scholars. In the middle of a class, the kids needed to get something from their lockers to use in the lesson, and when I asked them to go to their lockers quietly and return quietly, they did exactly that. I stood in the classroom with the door open and could hear almost nothing down the hall – just the quiet brushing of shoes on the floor, the careful closing of locker doors, and perhaps some scattered whispers. I must confess that I was fully expecting to hear typical teenage prattle and clamor, but no, the hall was hushed. When the scholars had assembled back in the room (quite quickly, I would add), I paused in the lesson to thank them for their dependability. I said I feel fortunate to be teaching such reliable people – and I do.
. . . . .
Our poem for this week in the 9th grade classes is about an onion -- how “small and forgotten” it is in a stew, how it “disappears for the sake of others” – and it started me thinking about teaching. I guess I want to be like an onion in the “stew” of my classroom. Like the onion in a stew, I want to add zest to my scholars’ learning, but I want to do it by simmering in the background, or underneath, hidden away from the choice delicacies of the stew – my students. Only by being cooked and made soft and translucent and almost transparent can an onion do its job in the stew, and only in a similar manner can I do my job in the classroom. The onion almost vanishes for the good of the stew, and I should be willing to do the same for the sake of the scholars. If visitors stop in, they should be immediately impressed with the work of the scholars, not the teacher. If I’m really doing my job, they might not even notice me at all, just like an onion lost in a tasty stew.