This Teaching

From her desk in the front row, she watches the teacher move amongst the desks that line the room. Her eyes tracking the woman’s movement, her hands resting on her desk, legs sprawled under her low brown desk, booted feet crossed haphazardly against the desk’s metal legs.

Sitting in the back of the classroom, I have a near-perfect view of the backs of 18 heads. I don’t always sit, but when I do, I watch 10-year-old heads bend over workbook pages, books, blank pages of paper. I watch ponytails swish as hands shoot into the air, I memorize the way little boy bedhead spikes, turns, curls.

Just now, it’s a science lesson, and all those young hands grip white science textbooks, their corners taped, laminated against the inevitable wear and tear of years of paging, reading, learning. Moving down one row, up another, their teacher talks about electricity and static shocks, and how the florescent lights above us glow like they do.

Then, as we listen and watch- the students her, and me the students- she says tempted, brings into the discussion a concept I’ve been teaching, a word I’ve defined and discussed and questioned. A word they know I’ve taught them.

And there as I watch, that little one in the front row perks up. Her blonde hair flying, she turns in her chair, swiveling around to see me. Her motion catches my attention, and I’m smiling when she catches my eye, but her excitement makes my own smile wider. She’s caught the connection, followed the trail between my lesson and this science lesson, and when that word was spoken, she remembered, and she wanted me to know.

She’s turned back almost immediately, back to hands on desk, ready to raise them high with an answer. Back to science learning and static shocks and why her ponytail always sticks to the back of her chair, or why his spikes when he takes his hat off. She’s back, but I sit at the table behind her- behind all of them- and I smile still.

Smile because that child- and those around her, no doubt- is making connections and learning concepts, and applying what she’s learning to all kinds of situations that are far beyond, far outside, what we’ve said in our lessons. But also smiling because it’s only been a week- only five short days- since I arrived in the classroom on that Monday morning early, and the way she brightened, and the way she wanted me to know that she knows, and the way she turned, grinning, knowing I would be there, knowing I would smile and nod, knowing I would catch the connection, too?

Well, it made me feel welcomed, made me feel at home, and it made me want to do this, this teaching and connecting and caring, for a long time more.



1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Grandma S.
    Jan 10, 2015 @ 19:06:49

    I’m sure there will be many moments like that in your teaching career. And it will be new and exciting to you each time.


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