When I got home from work today, I walked across my yard to the mailbox to get the mail. My yard is full of yellow and orange leaves to the point that you can't even see the grass. It was raining lightly and leaves got stuck all over my boots. Anywhere else in the country, I think the leaves and the rain would be a nuisance. Here, though, in the desert, it's like a garden in bloom. It is a rare and beautiful sight. I stopped in the center of my yard and stood there for a bit because it just felt right.
Every morning, at 5:30, when it is still dark outside, I can barely drag myself out of bed. I know that I have an entire day of hard work ahead of me, and I wonder when it will ever let up. The answer is that the hard work never lets up. The thing is that in teaching there are these moments with the particular kids in your class for the year that you miss if you don't ever stop and look around. I spend a lot of time this year looking at the clock and looking at the calendar and wondering how much longer my "sentence" with this group of kids will last.
The first thing that happened to me at school was that I received a gift. It was a bar of soap. Yeah. I was amused by this, but the soap looked really familiar. It looked familiar because the classes in our school each put together a basket of food and basic supplies for needy families. The baskets actually all went to families within our school, but the kids didn't know. I knew that this family received a food basket and I remembered the soap on top of our box. This kid really didn't have anything else to give me, so she brought me the soap. At first I thought it was the funniest gift I'd gotten, but in the end it was one of the most meaningful.
Later that day, I received a card from the little non-reader I've had in my class this year. I actually did get him placed in resource services and he is making a ton of progress in his reading and writing. He wrote me a note.
Dear Miss Understood,
Mary Chishmas. You make me feel Happy. You make me feel Smart. you are smart. you are wonderful Because you are Smart.
I promised myself that I would not let him leave my room without learning to read, but I also knew in my heart that he was smart but didn't believe it. I haven't got him reading fluently yet, but making him feel smart is almost a better compliment.
Finally, there was the special card from Bob. Bob is my student who has some more pronounced issues. He came in from his resource class with a huge smile today and he was hiding something behind his back.
"Bob, did you make me something?" I asked him.
He pulled out his card in an envelope with a perfect replica of Sonic the Hedgehog. "Here!" he said proudly. His note said "you make me Happy."
Bob, is one of my biggest challenges to teach academically this year, but Bob makes me happy too. I have so many kids with difficult temperaments, but Bob is the happiest, nicest student I've ever taught. He has been such a bright spot and a blessing for me on those days when I am looking at the clock and looking at the calendar.
My job doesn't have a lot of perks. I get really sick of it sometimes, but sometimes when good things do happen looking at it is a bit spectacular--like leaves in the desert.