Sunday, June 2, 2013

Evolution of a Classroom

Even after twenty years, I still get butterflies on the first day of school.
Standing in the hallway outside my classroom door, I clutch a mug of coffee and smile.   It’s these butterflies I like.
The old adage says, “Those that can’t… teach.”  But the simple truth is… not everybody gets to be a teacher.
Most people have no idea the fun they’re missing.   Teachers are some of the happiest, goofiest, silliest and peaceful people I know.
Sure, you poll the average person and they’re going to bemoan all the rough memories they had of high school , all the cliques and fake friends and back stabbings…oh, and the boring classes they sat through… but that never tells the whole story.
What most people don’t consider is how the classroom is this magical place.  Where else can future doctors and politicians be forced to rub shoulders with the engineers and street sweepers and baristas of their future… all on equal footing, as problem solvers and homework partners and classmates who must listen and respect one another.
Teaching in Saudi Arabia was no different.  Students arrived in their new company uniforms with eager faces and shy demeanors.  They tugged at their starched collars and nervously checked their schedules before entering.  There was confusion and chattering and chaos of all types.
And there were so many students I recognized.  The studious do-gooder in the front row, the klutz that trips and spills his books on the floor, the class clown who arrives late wearing sunglasses and a baseball cap turned around backward, the nouveau rich answering his cell phone in class and telling the teacher to, “Hold up.  This is important.”
They have no idea what I have in store for them, the amount of planning that has gone into making this semester click. The lessons and games and stories and activities. I don’t let on, either. I wait for the bell to ring and the class to quiet down, standing in front of them with one hand up, quelling them.
“Asalam Alaykum, class.”
“Alaykum Asalam.” They repeat in together.
Then as the room falls silent, I begin to sing.

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