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Teaching Beauty

Posted by on February 4, 2011

Teaching is like a rose; although it has some thorns, its beauty can’t be hidden. I thought today was going to be a rough day: my students received a terrible report from the art teacher first thing in the morning and then I had to immediately send a student to the principal’s office for continued bad behavior. I sighed and prepared myself for a long day. But, though I initially felt some of the thorns that teaching brings, the day unfolded like a beautiful rose. Through the rest of the day, the students were amazingly perfect! They listened respectfully and participated in class discussion; they worked quietly and efficiently to complete their work; they took more responsibility than I expected. I was amazed. Instead of having to discipline them by removing privileges, I began to reward them, which only encouraged their excellent behavior and boosted my spirits.

To review for the science CSAP, I made the brave choice to play a review game. Typically, students get rowdy when they’re playing any sort of game, but today their good behavior continued, which was very enjoyable. They cooperated nicely, and I even heard the comment “this is fun!” from several students. When we finally finished the game, I decided that my students had earned their last handful of rocks—which meant they would receive a special treat from me on Monday. They were overjoyed. I had a student come up to put the last handful into the jar, but as she reached into the bucket, she pulled her hand away and screamed, “Spider!” Somehow I was not surprised—my students are always finding spiders in our classroom. Spiders drop down from the ceiling…and sit by the outside door…and crawl up the whiteboard in the middle of the lesson. My classroom is a spider magnet. So, of course, half the class—well, maybe just the boys—jumped out of their seats and crowded around to see this new “class pet.” The bucket tipped, and rocks scattered all over the floor. It was one of those out-of-control moments that you can’t try to control. So instead, I shook my head and laughed.

Little did I know that it would get even crazier to make that last 5 minutes like a tornado compared to the unusually calm day. As we were cleaning up from the game, I asked for two volunteers to collect the game supplies. Maggie, who was still sitting on top of the table of desks with her team, excitedly volunteered, and I called on her to help me. Before I had even finished saying her name, like an earthquake, the desk beneath her suddenly tipped forward and collapsed, sending her tumbling to the floor! I was so shocked, I wasn’t sure what to do. Again, half the class—this time, mostly girls—sprung from their seats to crowd around Maggie. She popped right up and said, “My gluteus maximus hurts,” and everyone dissolved into laughter. By the end of the day, the “thorns” had all but disappeared; instead, each joyous memory was spread wide like the petals of a beautiful rose.

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