Friday, January 18, 2008

Maybe my best day of teaching

So, last weekend Yuri and I went to Disneyland. No pictures. No story really. But I'll never forget it. By the way, if you decide to go to Tokyo Disneyland, go during the winter, during a rain storm. You only have to wait in line for 45 minutes for the best rides.

It's been a long time since I have written about work. I mostly don't talk about work because of privacy issues, but also the majority of the time work is almost the same everyday. With a substantial number of quirks of course.

But the thing about working in grammar school is that it is never the same, and when it is good it is amazing. Today was one of the amazing days.

This week has been rough. I have been exhausted all week due to my late nights, long hours and cold weather. Wednesday was like a fight to stay awake. On Thursday I had people asking me all day if I was sick. So I got alot of sleep and went to school on Friday with a simple goal: get through my 5 classes (the rare maximum number) and go home. I got the school, prepared my classes, found my happy place and went to class. I think I did OK during my four back to back hours of teaching. During that time I sang the ABC song no less than 18 times (not an exaggeration), asked "How are you?" maybe 120 times (roughly) and said "Hello" even more times than that (since I say "hello" to every student I pass). Finally, it was lunch time. I ate silently at my desk in the teachers room and helped myself to a second helping of pumpkin soup. I cleaned up my tray and went to the hand wash area outside to brush my teeth.

As I brushed, I heard what sounded like a stampede headed my direction. I turned around to see a tide of about 20 Third Grade students swarming around me. I stood there stunned, my toothbrush hanging out of my mouth. The students stood there smiling then asked if they could sing Edelweiss for me, at which point they began to sing Edelweiss in English. Cornered, I did the only thing I could do. I spit, washed my toothbrush, and used it as a conductor's baton. To my surprise, the kids actually followed my baton! 15 more kids showed up and began to sing in the back. The first set finished and the kids asked me to conduct again. This time I warmed them up and really got into it. Keeping time with my brush, I used my hands and face to encourage the kids to express more emotion, or quiet down. Behind all the kids, a second grade teacher had shown and was grabbing passing kids and bringing them into the hand wash area to add to the crowd. After singing the song as a big group, all the Third graders broke into small groups and I went through and practiced with them in small groups. I passed the entire remainder of the lunch break conducting kids singing Edelweiss with my toothbrush. Then the bell rang and the kids dispersed. At that point I almost cried. What I saw was beautiful. Maybe my best moment as a teacher.

But I have to say maybe. There was that time I dressed as Santa and went around giving everyone cards, then ran to eat lunch with a class, who, as it turned out, had skipped lunch so that they could write thank you cards to me in return. Or that Fourth grade girl who had developed a phobia of school and refused to go to normal class, but wasn't afraid to go to my class. Or the special needs boy who loves my ABC flashcards so much that he comes to me at lunch every Tuesday and goes over the ABCs with me. Or the two pre-school girls who feud over me. Or the seriously ill girl who thanked me for trying to cheer her up by reading her a picture book (it turned out she had gone blind temporarily).

No, it is true. While my life may be headed in a direction that is not teaching, there very little doubt in my mind that I will become a grammar school teacher in the end. There is simply no job I could ever do that would be more important.


mom said...

Hi Trent
I read your blog about a week ago but I read it again today because i needed a little cheering up.
love you

Drake said...

Truly no greater endeavor, no higher calling. You've done more for the children of the world than the entire federal government of the US. (and probably more for the image of the US as well). I'm certain that teaching will always be in both of our futures.