I’ve always said, when I have unusually challenging students, that THEY are whom the community pays me to teach.
They are the ones that truly help me earn my paycheck each month. The gifted students, the great listeners, the voracious readers, the aspiring novelists and the scientists who teach ME a thing or two are always the ones that I’ve thought teach ME each year. They’re the ones that learn in spite of me.
But the ones that push back, the ones that need the extra push, the ones that come with baggage almost too heavy to carry are the ones that keep me up at night and the ones that force me to reach deep inside and find that something special that will help them turn the corner in the classroom.
That’s how I really earn my money.
But this year – this lovely amazing year - I’m earning ALL the back pay and then some of next year’s. It the perfect storm that comes once in a blue moon. I know most of you know what kind of storm I’m talking about.
After a particularly tough start to the week last week, I made some drastic changes and worked hard to steer the boat in another direction. It wasn’t easy.
On Friday I spotted the mother of one of my new charges walking back with her son after lunch. Parents often pop in to have lunch with their kids, and I have to give them a TON of credit. (Have you EVER been in a wackadoodle lunchroom? Have mercy…)
She stayed in the hall as the kids walked into the classroom, and pulled me aside before she left. I was a bit worried that she might bring up some stories that may or may not have come home about what may or may not have occurred in the classroom on any given day of this year. Instead, she looked at me and smiled.
“I want you to know that Jack woke up today and said he couldn’t WAIT to come to school.” She put a hand to her mouth, “I hope I don’t cry. Sorry. But he said he couldn’t wait to come and work on his writing. He said he was a ‘writing machine’ and was so excited!”
I smiled, surprised, and tilted my head, remembering what fun we had the day writing pumpkin stories with the bazillion pumpkins I received from a local farmer. She continued,
“I just wanted you to know that he’s never been excited to come to school before. Thank you. I really just wanted to thank you.” She smiled, turned and walked down the hall.
I watched her as she walked and I smiled.
That one moment -THAT moment- is what makes every sleepless night, every late night at school, every weekend spent in the classroom worth it.
Jack WANTS to come to school. And therefore, in spite of all that ails, so do I.
So do I.