The best part of teaching kids is realizing that 99% of their genius goes unrecognized by them. The things they shriek and utter, whisper and shout are the truths their hearts hold but they live at an age where they don’t realize the brilliance of their comments. Genius observations and heartbreaking truths fall from the mouths without a second thought and I run after them scooping them up- writing them down, sharing with parents. Us adults stand together and marvel at their insights while they chase each other, threatening to wipe invisible boogers on each other.
It’s a million mispronunciations, a thousand that’s so true comments, and every once in a while- a misunderstanding that’s so charming, that makes each day at work truly an adventure. I’ve become one of those sappy teachers, the one who refers to her class as ‘her kids’, and who spends her nights awake thinking of what she could do to make them learn more, enjoy it all more, and when I’m feeling very selfish- remember me when it’s all over.
But that’s another day, another post.
Instead, I’ll share Friday:
I walk into my class, my brain crammed full with to-do lists (for those who were curious- we started a unit on pirates- cleverly tied into their science unit on boats and their math unit on money. I’ve fallen behind in marking their pirate comprehension questions, hence the pirate marking that needs to get done) when I notice a charming girl walk up to her best friend and salute her with her middle finger. Before I can say anything else, two of my boys come into the room and yell to the girls and shake their middle fingers at them. Then, the four of them turn to me and all show me their middle fingers, smiling so hard it must have hurt. I call them each by name and tell them to get into the hall. My class turns silent. In a world of boundaries and rules, warnings and consequences, “get into the hall” is equal to “get into your cell at Guantanamo Bay“. As my four fingering rebels (who are now all close to tears) stand lined up against the wall I ask them what they are doing.
With further discussion, I discover that an older brother told his sister (who is in my class) that showing your middle finger means “Hello, I love you” in Chinese. She told her friend, who told her friend… and then boom! Suddenly my entire class is just trying to start the Friday off right by sharing a little love. The more they talk, the less I keep it together, by the end of our conversation my giggles are barely suppressed. I tell them that showing the middle finger DOES NOT mean I love you. They are shocked. I show them how to say it in sign language instead.
They go back to class knowing something new, and I go back with one more story to tell their parents.