There are moments that hit me unexpectedly in the classroom.
These moments are shocking. There is the shock that is welcomed, and then there is the shock I prefer to avoid altogether.
What kind of shock do I mean, you ask inquisitively?
Oh, just that kind of shock that comes from having a gun in the classroom. And the shock from having another gun, on a different day, in the same classroom. And the shock that comes from a swat team barging in, pointing 14 loaded guns in response to said gun being in the classroom.
This kind of shock is not invited to my tea party. And when it rudely interupts my day, it it is genuinely hard to recover.
But today I felt a different kind of shock. It unfolded slowly and methodically. It knocked gently on my door and wiped its wet feet on the rug. And it restored hope in my heart.
We are currently reading a book called, "We Beat the Streets" in our classroom. It's about three inner-city kids who make a pact to overcome the challenges of poverty, violence, and apathy and become doctors. My students are in love with it.
Today I witnessed that love unfold in front of me. I watched Dawayne eagerly turn the pages of the book. His nose was pasted to the page. This is a kid who rarely does anything but sleep and drool through the day.
My initial reponse was this, "Dawayne, please put down the book and take part in the discussion with us."
His head, in perfect opposition defiance, did not move from the page.
And then it dawned on me. He's READING! He's actually so engaged in the story that he can't put the book down. What the hell I am trying to accomplish here? How can I care about not following directions when I'm witnessing a mind being independently engaged in literature?
I was in shock, but I embraced it with open arms.
Let him read.
Sometimes it is important for me to pause and recognize what I ask of my students and whether it is ultimately the best thing for them.
Knowing when to bend so others may grow is a delicate lesson for all involved.