Last night, a very cool thing happened. I finally fully realized what my friends and family have been telling me – I don’t have to be in a classroom to teach. Intellectually and logically, this is a fact I have always been aware of, but just yesterday I could actually accept the emotional side of that coin.
As you know if you’ve been following me, I have been beating myself up over this blog. But yesterday I received a message from a former student about how he came across and read my blog. Therefore, he felt inspired to start his own online writing. Before sharing the link to his new blogspot, he made note of how he carried absolutely no prior knowledge of my being quite so funny. See, I told any potential haters I didn’t talk this kind of shit while teaching.
He further shared that I had been an “awesome” teacher, even admitting his own guilt in the reality that his grades were not typically an accurate reflection of the quality of my teaching. He said he possessed a lot of anger and frustration regarding the general state of the world today. Through my own example, which I have been condemning myself for, he realized what a wonderful resource writing would be to express his perspective, ultimately enabling him to be a more mentally positive person. If others can discover the wonder of writing through my random and ridiculous words, then I am teaching and this makes me feel fulfilled and fabulous.
The pride I felt from that brief message is immeasurable, and rings familiar of another boastful teaching moment. Okay, truth be told I have been trying to figure out a way to brag about the following on my blog for quite some time now.
My students stood on their desks. They stood on their desks, and I felt absolutely honored. You may be confused right now assuming that I just have really poor classroom management skills. But, stay with me here. It was the senior’s final day of high school, and they all knew it was to be (not my decision) my last year with the district. The bell rang at its regular time and I promptly had my head down and mind wrapped up in assessing a student essay, given all the work to be done at the end of the year. I heard one of the students say, “Wow. She’s not even noticing.” It was then I looked up to see each student standing erect atop his or her desk, and thanking me for my service and dedication by announcing: “Oh Captain! My Captain!”
If you don’t understand the impact of this moment, you have likely never witnessed Robin Williams’ brilliant performance in the moving film Dead Poet’s Society. (If you’re not an English geek like me, this also alludes to a Walt Whitman work.) I was their Professor Keating – the one who taught them not only about literature, but life. I am the one whose passion would not be tucked away behind a blazer and firm face, even if others would have wished it that way.
So, damn my old desk and curse that classroom. I don’t need either to make a difference. I am teaching. I am teaching, and today’s lesson is that I rule.