This is Teacher Appeciation Week!
Today was the most important day of the week! What would have started like any other day where I fantasize about getting to the copier before my colleagues and prepare another awesome lesson AND bask in that elusive “teachable moment” I instead caught myself parking too far away, hopping puddles, and swinging my brief case over tiny heads to elude my watching principal. Yaaaas! Today was another one of THOSE days!
For me, Teacher Appreciation Day consists of getting through the day knowing that I enlightened someone else (atleast in theory). Just like yesterday and the week before–sort of like Father’s Day, but without the unwanted ties–I do my best. No recognition required.
However, today was the day that I was called upon to activate my super powers. To understand what I mean, I should take you back to the first day of school. I wore a cape. Dressed like Zorro (without the sword), I broke the ice by inviting each of my new students to choose a super power. If they could posses any talent, what would it be?
My first student told me she’d be invisible. How revealing? So I gave her a laminated illustration of Invisible Girl. Another student said he’d protect the environment. I offered him a Captain Planet photograph.
Our first morning meeting was exciting. Every student identified with a super hero unique to their own talents and inhibitions.
But one student stood out. He was included on my original roster but was retrieved early in the lesson to join another class. Before he had a chance to participate, he had to leave. He cried. He wanted to be a super hero too. I kneeled down and whispered in his ear that he will always be apart of our class, and that he could still be a hero.
In a moment of spontenanity I offered him the option of being a super spy–a secret double agent–which quickly evolved into a “class ambassador” who could report back to our Justice League at a later date. He accepted, and his tears began to dry. I explained that any time our paths met in the hallway, I’d signal him with a modest thumbs up. If everything was copetectic, he’d respond in kind. We had a plan! 🕵🏼
Months later, he rose to the top of his class. I knew that I had nothing to do with his success. Infact, I revelled in the knowledge that he was getting a great education in my colleague’s class. Without my shinanegans slowing him, he was making great progress.
Frequently, we’d catch up with each other in the hallway. I’d greet him with a thumbs up. “Hey Zorro,” he’d whisper.
But as the year progressed, the super hero gimmick faded in the wake of more important subject matter. Vocabulary competitions, math challenges, and writing workshops became daily routine. Now we’ve mastered second grade content and are progressing towards promotion. Thirty days and counting! The school is still quiet from standardized testing. The weather outside fluctuates from hour to hour. Occasional field trips arrouse the student excitement while the chance of running wild for recess builds anticipation.
Today when I arrived, the administrative assistant alerted me to my newest arrival. My secret agent was going to rejoin my class! Although unanticipated, change is exciting and met accordingly. Thumbs up and off to class. But when he arrived, he wasn’t so happy. He enjoyed the comfort of his other class and was in no mood for gimmicks.
He had tears in his eyes. He did NOT want anything to do with a new environment. I tried to reconnect with him. He wasn’t interested. And then it hit me!
I asked him if he recalled his super power. He nodded. “I’m a secret agent,” he said.
“You’re other class is way ahead of mine,” I declared. “We could sure use your help…” He cried harder. 🙃
I was at a loss, and then it hit me. I too needed to activate my super power. I am a teacher! I’m a counselor. I am a role model and a friend.
I recalled Peter Parker! Clark Kent! Bruce Wayne! They all were super in their own rite. But there came a day that they had to activate their super power. They had to put aside their alter ego in leui of their super identity.
There comes a time in our lives that we all do this. The day I became a father; the night I was called to fight my first house fire; or the day I chased down a shoplifter–today was my day (again)!
I kneeled down and whispered, “today is your day…” He stopped sniffling. He wiped away the tears. He had to make a choice.
I’d like to tell you that he took my hand and walked with me into our class. I can’t because lying is NOT my super power. Instead I can honestly tell you that with much pleading and bargaining, cojoling and convincing, my “special agent” opted out.
Something was learned today. I can’t tell you what he learned, but I can tell you about THIS super teacher. Not every lesson is a successful one.
Just like other adults, my day is filled with compromise. I try. I learn. I help. I receive help. With some support from my colleagues, my secret agent returned to his other class. He was happy. My other students had an opportunity to exercise their developing talents, and no one had homework today.
Today was Teacher Appreciation Day! I appreciate my students and my colleagues. I think they appreciate me. Tomorrow will come. And we will learn some more…
Fellow educators, thank you for not giving up. You’re SUPER!