I learned today that I develop a crease near my chin before I start to cry. I learned this because my friend Abby saw it in my face at our GSA meeting.
It was a relatively simple activity. Students took 3 minutes to brainstorm on each of four prompts (this idea is picked up from somewhere--can’t attribute it correctly, but it’s not mine, just to be clear): what I wish my parents knew, what I wish my teachers knew, what I wish my peers knew, and what I wish I knew. After students listed, quickwrote, whatever… they chose one sentence to anonymously dump into a collective bucket, which our student leaders read aloud. Kids (and teachers) in the circle raised their hands if they could identify with the statement or they had ever felt that way.
I am sitting next to Louis, a student I adore in class. His wit sparkles; he has his own mind. But I often wonder if he respects me as a teacher, if he puts me in the category of people who are trying to ruin his life and who don’t understand him. He’s painfully bright, aware of everything around him, a harsh critic. But he’s the kind of critic who you want to impress. Sylvia reads the next one aloud: “I wish my teachers knew how much they mean to me and how much I appreciate them.”
We are sitting cross-legged on the floor. He kicks my knee with his foot and turns his head to make eye contact, smirking. This is the loudest thank you I have received this year. My husband asked if it could have been an accident. It was not.
The crease near my chin develops. I am reminded by the most important stakeholder in this whole public education business that my work matters and I am doing something right.
It occurs to me that we teachers are a pretty easy bunch to please.