Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Amazing Distracters

Distracters are actually known in the education world as the multiple choice answers that are meant to distract a test taker from the correct answer, thereby forcing them to really know their stuff. In this case, however, the distracters are the students (more specifically, MY students).

I have written before that one of the most difficult plight of a teacher is that, even when the world around you is crumbling, you need to paste on a happy (or at least tolerant) face and go be in charge of a whole group of little people who are all looking at you expectantly to lead them. In short, you don't really have the luxury of having a bad day.

That said, it kind of works both ways. Some of the times that I have been absolutely miserable have been the exact times when I needed my students the most. I will get to school worried about something serious and the next thing I know I am caught up in the whirlwind as my students rush through the door and begin to regale me with stories and rely on me and my undivided attention. All of a sudden it will be 3:30 and time to say goodbye and it is only then that I realize I hadn't though about my own concerns once all day.

It was this way last year as I prepared to leave my school after a year that had been truly awful for me personally and emotionally. It is this way now as I begin to experience trials once again. Even when you are mired in your own issues, the students pick up on things like that. Then, if you have a good relationship with them, they'll do something small to make sure you're ok. For example, even if I have a moment of dry throat, one of my students will invariably run to my desk and grab my water bottle for me. Or they'll notice something that they picked up long long ago that you're sure that they never would actually remember. Like when I told them at the beginning of the year that I'd had knee surgery. Then, several months and a lot of therapy later, I knelt down to write something on the bottom of the board and one of my students exclaimed with glee, "Ms. Teach, you can KNEEL!!!"

Sometimes the best blessing we receive is the smiling faces, ridiculous jokes, sweet troubles, and kind words of the people who really do fill our hearts and minds for all of the time that they are in our presence. And sometimes, especially when they try so hard to take care of me, I feel very lucky for the distraction.

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