“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” I currently find myself between a rocher and a hard place because, well, life is not exactly giving me lemons. Just gallons upon gallons of perfectly sweetened lemonade. In case I am extending the metaphor too far, what I mean is, the content of each hour in my day is filled with often-touching, always-unexpected interactions, usually with young people who really need them.
A quick illustration: Following a 20-minute haranguing from 6 irate French 2 students this morning (they did not understand every single word in a reading comprehension exercise on their quiz), Student X shuffled into my classroom, as though Wes Anderson had just barked “Action!” from the room across the hall. Ironically enough, this kid wants to work in film.
“Miss H. Do you have a minute?”
In my head: Obviously I don’t have a minute. I can barely breathe right now. I have 34 students left to deal with today, 4 sets of quizzes and 8 essays to grade, 2 lesson plans to complete and a research paper to proof for the 5th time. I swallowed the rising lump in my throat, fought back that pesky pricking feeling behind my eyes and took a deep breath.
Outloud: “Of course. What’s up?”
“Do you ever feel like you can’t do anything right?”
In that one moment, any feelings of inadequacy, frustration and anger melted away. You know why? Because I took the focus off me and put it on my student. (Which, by the way, is where it belongs.) I laughed out loud and thanked him.
“Every day?” I replied honestly.
Student X and I proceeded to discuss forgetfulness, time-management and some family issues. He thanked me and told me he felt better. So did I. Student X might not be conjugating his verbs perfectly just yet, but he did share me with the fact that he couldn’t believe he was “actually interested in French again.” I’ll take it.
Wow. One quick 20-minute exchange magically made my day go from rock-bottom to actually pretty good.
Inspiration? Check. Every-day beauty? Check. Just what I craved, searched for and found. Now if only I felt like I had the faintest clue of how to teach reading comprehension…