Thursday, June 12, 2014

Speak Up

I’ve remarked to several people that I feel more like a zookeeper than a teacher this week.  I’ve tried to keep my students engaged and haven’t even shown a full-length movie (which is a miracle in itself and will change tomorrow), but it seems no matter what you try to do this time of year, self-control is out of the question.   I’ve spent most of the week barking orders and begging for cooperation.  We’ll all admit the learning is behind us and now we’re just trying to hold it together for a few more days.

With that said, a raised hand is seen more as of an annoyance than an opportunity at this point.  This morning, while I was explaining to my class how the rest of our day’s schedule was going to go, I saw a hand creep up in the back of the room.  I’m sure I sighed under my breath as I called on the student, patiently awaiting either a silly comment or a question about something I’d just gone over.

Instead, the little boy’s voice rang out, “I just wanted to say that this has been a wonderful class.”  What followed was the quietest, most still moment I’ve experienced in my classroom all week.  The other students were as taken aback as I was by this sudden change of mood, and I honestly think many of them were struck by the same wave of emotion that I felt.  Whether you’re 10 years old or 100 years old, you know when you’ve got a good thing, and you feel a pang knowing it won’t last forever. 

I answered, “You’re right, this has been a wonderful class.  I appreciate your pointing that out to all of us,” and before I could finish my thought, two or three more hands shot up and the room was abuzz with similar comments.  We as teachers often force kids to compliment each other or thank other adults, but I can’t think of another time that I’ve witnessed unsolicited outpouring of such gratitude and kindness from a group of kids.  And all because that one little boy was brave enough to speak up and express a sentiment that we all held in our hearts, but were too busy, too distracted, or too afraid to say out loud. 

It was in that moment that I realized two things.  The first was that I’ve done something right with these kids this year.  Even if they have acted like zoo animals this week, they are far from uncivilized when it comes to appreciating a moment and expressing themselves.  The second was that we should all be a little more like that little boy- unafraid to speak up and pour out our hearts to those around us.  He knew the clock was ticking and if he didn’t say it then, he might not get the chance.  Whether we realize it or not, that’s a truth we all live with every day.  So, whatever it is, raise your hand and say it today.  Chances are someone else is feeling it too.

Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.”  Luke 6:45

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