Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Greatest Honor A Teacher Can Receive

Most of the kids in our 4-5's class went to school together last year and so they fell in together readily yesterday on their first day back at school. Of those new to the school this year, many of them had attended one or more of our summer sessions, so the place and Teacher Tom were at least familiar even if the other children were not. There were only a couple for whom this was truly a first day.

Of course, they felt a bit shy at first, but one girl in particular didn't want her parents to leave. She didn't cry, but she clung to them, unwilling to let go. But they did leave. They chose a moment when I happened to have ducked indoors to handle a bit of housekeeping. My head was down, but when I looked up I spied her. She had come inside looking for me.

I said, "I was just coming outside." As I approached her she reached out for my hand and we walked hand-in-hand down the hallway, through the mud room, and out the door.

I had a few things to do out there as well, so we did them together, hand-in-hand. When I sat to chat with and observe the kids, I patted the seat next to me, indicating it was for her. Instead, she cuddled into to me, holding, alternatively, my arm or my leg. Finally, I just encircled her with both arms, lightly, then spoke with the other children with her head just below mine, a little like she was a joey in her kangaroo mama's pouch.

Up to then, she had mostly communicated with me non-verbally, occasionally making vocal sounds to get my attention, but as we sat like this she began to talk to me, remarking on things she noticed on the playground. She was particularly interested in the small items on the ground, like bits of wire, wine corks, bottle caps.

Whenever I had to move from one place to another, we moved together, her tiny hand in mine. When I sat she became my joey again. Slowly, she began to roam away from my pouch to get a closer look at the objects on the ground, bringing them back to me. Soon my hands were full.

One of the other children needed something that caused me to zip inside for a moment, I said to her, "I'll just be gone for a few seconds. I'll be right back." When I returned to the playground she was waiting for me at the door where she took my hand again.

Most children take days, if not weeks, to learn to trust me like this. I went home feeling as full of love as I've felt in a long time. I am fully aware of the honor this girl has bestowed upon me, the greatest honor a teacher can receive.

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