|"MORNING ON THE RIVER", oil, by Laurel Daniel|
Yesterday afternoon, after the students had gone home and my classroom was empty and silent, I got to thinking that everything that happened in the room during the day was gone. The words we said, the activities we did together, the smiles and frowns we shared – all of these seemed to have disappeared like smoke blown away. Twelve thousand teaching and learning moments appeared to be gone forever. I felt like I had been floating on a strong river all day long, through all my classes, and now, at 3:45, the river had vanished, never to return. Another river would flow tomorrow, but yesterday’s was nowhere to be found. It made me somewhat sad to think of it this way, but before long, luckily, I had another, opposite realization – that, in a sense, nothingthat happened in my classroom would ever disappear. All the ideas that streamed through my room from first period to last would never vanish, because they are not made of a substance that can vanish. Ideas and words are not material things that can fade away and evaporate. Once created, they begin their alluring work of altering lives, and this work never ends, no matter how concealed it becomes. The river that ran through my room yesterday may have appeared to be gone, but really, it had only slipped into a secret realm where it will continue to run its miraculous operations. Without realizing it, my students and I will be quietly affected, in thousands of small ways, by every thought and word that was shared in Room 2 yesterday. The briefest comment by the quietest student will ripple through all of our lives in ways we can never imagine. And a similar magic will happen again today.