Balance--One period, when I came to the epiphanic moment of my lecture, a student clapped her hand over her mouth and gasped. The next period, at the same moment, a student burst into giggles.
A principal who’s such a learner she can truly participate as a teacher in the department meetings I run. An elementary teacher who invited input on what gaps or misunderstandings students are coming into middle school with. All my department colleagues who are willing to share their successes and failures so we can encourage, celebrate, and learn from each other. A curriculum coordinator several years ago who in my first year as a department chair got all the department chairs reading Understanding by Design--which has changed me, my department, and the school.
Overheard at student peer writing conferences: “You have really good points.” “Your thesis doesn’t quite address the prompt.” (Also: “You didn’t write anything on my paper!” “It was perfect.” “That doesn’t help me any.”)
Connections made: “Is it okay if I refer to shalom [a core concept from the previous unit] in the human dignity paper? Because it seems like they connect.”
Connections sometimes at the level of moments of epiphany--such as this one while a class was discussing disregard of human dignity that is milder than genocide, but not evidencing respect and love for the image of God within...
- Student 1: “Gossip.”
- Me: “Spreading or listening to gossip.”
- Student 1: “Spreading.”
- Me: “Is listening to gossip disregarding human dignity?”
- Student 1: “No.”
- (Almost simultaneously) Student 2: “YES! That’s being a bystander! [concept from previous unit] That’s supporting the perpetrator and ignoring the victim!” [reference to Elie Wiesel’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech which we read this unit after reading Night].
- Me: “So what was a theme of the book you finished?”
- Student: “It might seem kind of trite, but I think it was ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover.’”
- Me: “Why did you choose this book to read next?”
- Student: “I liked the cover.”
Thankfulness--My entire teaching career has been at an international Christian school established for missionary kids in Japan, so maybe this is unique to Asia, but every day 15-year-old students leave my classroom with a chorus of “thank-you’s.” A cultural formality? Could be. But every day ends just a little brighter than it would otherwise, and that’s something to be thankful for.
Happy Thanksgiving weekend. May it find you thankful for many, many things.