09 September 2011

Ms. C has left the building.

Rather, she will--in about forty minutes!

I have been here almost every night until about 9pm, trying to make my lesson plans and my brain play nice together. Teachers, that is a really helpful thing to remind your students when they are weeping over the hour of the homework they had to do last night. (If you are a particularly vicious kind of person, you can say it with kind of a snarl: "Well, I was here for five hours making worksheets--just because I love you guys so much." But that's just a general example, not one obtained from my own personal experience. ;)

I don't mind public speaking a bit, but when the monologue is mainly unscripted as with teaching, my brain is always playing tag with my tongue.  I sometimes feel like this wits-vs-voice showdown is playing out in front of class, with my poor mind always lagging a few minutes behind, trying to wipe up the mess my mouth just made. For example, while defining "suspense," today, I said something like, "You know, when you're just really on the edge of your sheet? I mean, the edge of your seat. Maybe you're on the edge of your sheet if you're reading in bed." And in this way, I impart my supreme wisdom and awkwardness to the next generation.


But I look out my classroom's west window and see this, and then I look at the faces of those kids filling up the seats, and I think that it's okay to be a little awkward in front of such a great audience.

I mean, I really am looking forward to the day when I will be done with lesson plans and photocopies by 5:30, to that moment when I am no longer spending two hours getting ready for every fifty minutes I teach. It's part of the rhythm in this imaginary song called "Someday After September," a song which is subtitled "I Will Be a Real Person Again." It's how it is, and I hope I'm not sounding too negative about it. I'm tired, yes, and I'm a little overwhelmed, but I like being in this place.

Last night, I sat at this desk writing responses to 7th grade book journals. Halfway through, I was trying to make realistic goals, wondering how long it would take to get beyond these surface 2-sentence back-and-forth exchanges about their books--when I opened up to a page-long letter. She shared a little about her book, then asked me what I thought of something--a rather personal kind of question, the tiniest hint of need for affirmation. And so I thought for awhile, penned a page in response, decided I didn't like it, ripped the page out, and re-wrote the thought.

I handed it back to her this morning, wondering if she'd think my response was cheesy or weird or heavy-handed. She whipped it off her desk immediately, gasping when she saw all that handwriting (or maybe she was just stunned by my profuse use of White-Out). And then she smiled and looked up at me, then down again, then into the journal again, rereading the page and smiling just enough to let me know that she's probably going to write another page back this time, maybe even two. Now maybe I'm romanticizing this little exchange, and maybe she'll write back, "Um, that was weird. But thanks. I like Dawn Treader, too. It is a good book," and that will be the end of it. But I kinda don't think so, and that's the part that makes my awkward little heart smile.

I think we spend a lot of life likening our purpose to a unicorn, talking about it as if it's this mysterious, mythical entity out there somewhere, and we must go discover it and capture it and then our lives will be complete. But I don't think it's like that. I don't think anyone has to wait. Even though we're always in the process of becoming, what's the point of being who we are now if that person has nothing to contribute? Maybe we do have some grand future destiny to fulfill, or maybe we're just the person who writes letters back and forth to a middle school girl for the rest of forever, and that's it. It's just as grand a calling as anything. We spend most of our lives in the mundane and the ordinary; I can't suppose that's an accident. I think it's because those are the places where we have the most opportunity to love.

Even when "love" just means answering "Can we please never read Sylvia Plath in your class again?" with a hearty "yes."

1 comment:

Bob said...

Thanks for your openness(sp?). I think we all have a tendency for our brains to get ahead of our mouths. Sometimes our mouths get ahead of our brains and then we are in real trouble. I like your thoughts on doing something "now" with your life and letting the future take care of itself.

Thanks, Shar.

I know God will continue to bless you as you learn and grow.

Bob