Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Unexpected Love

Tuesdays at Two Writing Teachers!
What does he want this time? 

Two minutes of my planning period remain before the bell rings to signal the start of the weekend. H. who is in one of my morning classes but has a class in my room during this period, is hovering a few steps away from the corner of my desk.

When he did this a few days after joining my class, it was to tell me he thought our class was too hard. (I reassured him that meant that he was now in the right place, as we'd switched him out of a class that was too easy for him.) A week later, it was to campaign for a break and ask why we have to work so hard all the time. (I took this a compliment, pointed to the big cut-out word "relentless" on the wall, and told him that I want him to graduate... and reassured him that we do have fun, too!) Does he need something? Is he going to complain about something again?

I "fix my face" a la Maya Angelou*, making sure my eyes sparkle with a real smile for him when I look up from my laptop. "What's up, H.?"

He shifts his weight from one foot to the other and half-smiles. "You know how much I love you?"

??? I'm not sure how to answer this question from a male teenage student. Is he serious? "Yeah?" I answer-ask in what I hope is a joking tone.

"A LOT!" The half-smile blooms into a full one that spreads across his face. "I didn't know what to think of your class at first, and I didn't really like it..." His words are picking up speed and he's standing more firmly on his feet. "But now I really love it. I love being in your class!" His eyes beam joy right into mine.

I let out the breath I didn't realize I was holding and relax my shoulders. "Aw, thanks, H! I love having you in my class!" What high school boy actually says that to his teacher? And at the end of the day on Friday? "Seriously, thanks so much for saying that. It means a lot!"

The bell rings, he waves, and the boisterous bustle of a high school at 2:42 on a Friday erupts in the hallway. I'm frozen in my desk chair, wrapped in the same kind of surreal delight that happens when I finish a really remarkable book and I just have to sit for a minute, feeling its weight in my hands.

* "You must remember, the very first thing a child sees, the first thing they notice when they see you, is you seeing them. They look carefully to see what your face looks like as you lay eyes upon their face. When you see a child, no matter what,  remember to fix your face."  
-- Maya Angelou


  1. Love. Love. Love this story. You must be doing something right :)

  2. I love this and can totally connect to it, though I teach K. But I still have those kids that return to tug on my leg often, requiring me to take a breath and "fix my face" to hide my impatience! Those sweet surprises are the best.

  3. Now that was the way to start a weekend! We never know what it is that will make a difference to students, but oh how sweet when they actually tell you. I am not surprised he loves your class, you care and they know it.

  4. Thanks for a lovely story and strong reminder from Ms. Angelou. October can be so stressful, and we have to remember we are there for the students.


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