Friday, June 29, 2007


Sometimes kids save me, and they don’t even know it.

One cold, January day, I am feeling strained, stressed, and awful. I have been working for several days on a major report due in response to a fellowship I’ve received. The package is to be postmarked the next day. I scramble to finish typing, and I need to proofread before I send the thirty plus pages out. I print to my desktop inkjet. No ink. I print to the main staff room laser. A malfunction. I print to the media center laser. Out of service.

Frustrated, I rush down the hall, clutching my flash drive, looking for anyone who might have an available and functional printer. As I’m about the charge into the office, a parent stops me. “Hey!” she smiles, “It’s my son’s favorite teacher!” Her son is largely silent in my class, and he often struggles with his grade. Before this moment, I have no idea that he even likes me. I instantly feel better. When I see him, later, I thank him, and I send his mom a short note, thanking her, too.

Thanks to a very kind colleague, I am able to print, proof, and post my report on time the next day. Yet, more importantly, the kid comes into school and says, at the beginning of class, “My mom says to tell you that you have a beautiful soul.”

As a teacher, much of my job is to make connections with kids and their families, to build communities of learners that extend beyond my own physical reach. This seems obvious to me on a practical level, but I don’t always see evidence that my efforts work, until a kid or a parent says something unexpected that changes my perspective. It’s amazing to me how we touch and are touched just by virtue of the nature of the profession. Yeah, I think moments like these are why I teach.

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