Monday, February 23, 2009

Better Days

I don't write often about work. At least once every couple of days, something happens that I think would make a great blog post, but I'm a pretty lazy blogger. I'm trying to get better, but usually I just forget.

Today, I had a bad day at work. And as I was thinking about the fact that teaching has such high highs and such low lows, I thought about the fact that I should probably write down some of the things that aren't bad so that I can look to them when I have a day like today.**

This story actually happened last Friday. In celebration of Black History Month, we had a troupe of African drummers and dancers in for an assembly. I attended with class made up of 3- and 4-year-olds, since the assembly fell during their library time. The program was pretty great--all of the kids, regardless of age, were engaged, and it's hard to find something that will do that with kids ranging from 3-11. And then the stiltwalker came out.

I'd heard that there was a stiltwalker, and I had pictured...a guy on stilts. In fact, he was a guy on stilts dressed in a raffia skirt, pants that covered the stilts, a brightly colored shirt and what basically amounted to a hood over his head, with a hat on top. When I first saw him, he made me jump a bit. So naturally he scared the bejesus out of the younger kids.

As soon as he passed by me, one of the girls from the class I was with made a beeline for me, tears streaming down her cheeks. She crawled up into my lap and cried. Then I looked behind me and saw two little girls from another class clinging to each other and sobbing, so I had them come over. There was no room on my lap, so they stood next to my chair, pressed up against my side. All three of them were quite upset.

The stiltwalker made one circuit of the multi-purpose room then sat down on an upright piano in the corner. The kids calmed down a bit, but would not take their eyes off him or sit back down in their seats. They relaxed a little after about ten minutes, and I had just gotten them sitting down when he stood up again. I saw the girl who'd been on my lap stiffen and reach out and clutch the side of the bench she sat on, so I put my hand on her shoulder. She turned around and dove for my lap.

You may be thinking "But this is a terrible story! Those kids were terrified!" And yes, they were. And I'd prefer that they hadn't been. But one of the things that I like about my job--the thing that keeps me going through the bad days--is those moments when I know I've had an impact on a kid. And in this case, I could make a scary situation a little less scary. It's different from having a student tell me that the book I suggested for them was perfect, but still hits the same spot.

**Nothing catastrophic happened today. I just had a class that refused to get it together, and turned what should have been a pretty awesome lesson into total crap.

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