Friday, June 3, 2011

Surrounded

Morale was bad in the elementary classroom.  All week children had been picky and nasty towards each other, so I decided that we'd do a simple exercise in appreciation.  I had the children make a circle; each child took a turn sitting in the center of the circle.  The people on the circumference said nice things about the child in the center.  What do you like about this person? When did this person make you laugh?  When has this person made you feel better?  Most children like to share in this context.   Some people aren't comfortable spilling their guts in public, so I don't force anyone to speak.

One boy didn't say anything nice about anyone.  When it was his turn to be center he jammed a finger into each ear; however, as students began saying sweet things about him, he removed both fingers.  A few more children shared (more sunshine and love), and my boy smiled wide.  Quickly he laid his head in his lap so that nobody would see his pleasure.

This is smart, funny, thoughtful, but also difficult student.  He's learned to protect himself, to shield his heart from anticipated rejection. He keeps the fortress walls locked most of the time.  To witness his self-conscious acceptance of love was one of those pure joy moments that represent the best of teaching.  I still get teary eyed when I recall his face.

This challenging year has had many long days where I have not liked my job.  I have questioned whether teaching is a good fit for me, or I for it.  But moments like this.....I know that I'm home.

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