It's by a fellow teacher who has decided to move on from teaching.
She is documenting her last days as a teacher and how those days are effecting her and her students over at where you'll find me.
Not only is she a beauty on the outside, but most definitely a beauty on the inside.
She leaves a positive mark everywhere she goes.
Heather, thank you for being the person you are and for sharing her with us! ♥
and so it begins...
On Day 71, I stood before my students with a giant "71" projected on the screen behind me. (Note - I plan to project the number every day. Today was Tuesday. I dread Thursday. The projector might be conveniently "broken" on Thursday. Do the math. If you've ever taught middle school, you know why.)
I asked them if we could talk for a minute.
For the record, when you ask 8th graders this question, the answer is always, always yes. Yes, Mrs. Nianouris, we can talk! Talk for an hour! In fact, talk for TWO! We don't care! We will listen like it's the best story we've ever heard! (...as long as it has NOTHING to do with what we are studying.)
So I sat down on my stool and explained my plans to leave the classroom this spring. I didn't really tell them why, because that wasn't the point. Their reactions were mixed. Some teared up, some looked betrayed, some looked at the clock, others at their fingernails- the usual myriad of adolescent expression.
I explained my mission: "For the next 71 days, I vow to do something to make sure each of you know how special and loved you are. So we are going to start with standing ovations. How many of you have had a standing ovation?"
"Why do people give others standing ovations?"
Hands shot up. "Because they're good at something!" they replied.
"Right. We give standing ovations to celebrate people. And you know what? You all deserve to be celebrated. Celebrated just because you're alive. Celebrated because you've made it this far. So beginning today, one of you will receive a standing ovation until we've gone through the entire class. You will yell, scream, shout, and stomp. We will be so loud that they will hear us in the office. We will be so loudthat other teachers will come in here wondering what the heck is going on. You will cheer for your friends, and you will cheer for your enemies. You will cheer equally loud for every single person because that's what you'll want them to do for you. Normally, we will pull names out of a hat. But today, I will pick the first person."(Read: I hadn't cut up the names yet)
I quickly scanned the morning group and called on a sweet girl named Mary (names have been changed to protect the privacy of the students). Mary is a cancer survivor. She's beautiful, quiet, and kind. She wears a head scarf most days, and man, she rocks it. Mary is a true testament to beauty and strength. A warrior among warriors.
Mary walked tentatively toward the front of the room as the students rose from their seats. And then, for 60 glorious seconds, her classmates went crazy. At one point, about 15 seconds in, I watched Mary gasp and bring her hand toward her mouth. I wasn't close enough to see if she was crying, but I know one thing: I was. You guys, I wish I could play you the video, but you'll just have to trust me when I say that it was one of the most beautiful moments I've ever witnessed.
In the afternoon, I took a different route. I chose a boy with whom I've really struggled this year. See, this young man doesn't really do much in my class. Homework, to him, is not a requirement, but an option. An option he rarely never picks. And man, does that frustrate me sometimes, because he's SO capable.
But here's the thing I love about him: He never makes excuses. He doesn't pretend to hunt through his materials when I'm collecting work. When I ask him if he has it, he just says no. When I ask him why he isn't paying attention, he often tells me he's just not interested in what I'm saying. It's refreshing, actually, his honesty.
He's a really neat kid. Very deep. Very introspective. I have a feeling he'd have a lot to say if he thought anyone at school cared enough to listen.
Yesterday afternoon, we celebrated this young man. A young man who's probably never been celebrated in school for any reason. He stood there accepting the applause, looking very unsure at first, holding on to the back of his neck. By the end, he finally smiled. Just a little, but I saw it.
I hope that he felt special. Because he is.
70 days left.