Teaching is a crapshoot. One year you can have a crew of kids that act as if Piaget’s theory of child development was a total waste of time and you spend most of your year managing behaviors like it’s the first day of school every day, and other years you think the grace of God has imbued you with his own angelic realm because behavior management is barely a concern.
Last year, I had a classroom full of angels.
The first two days of classes went exceptionally well, so by the third day of school, I decided to test them with a social experiment. I put on my iTunes music while they worked, and eventually Bruno Mars’s undeniable voice streamed over the speakers:
Same bed but it feels just a little bit bigger now,
Our song on the radio but it don’t sound the same
I start humming along.
When our friends talk about you, all it does is just tear me down
‘Cause my heart breaks a little when I hear your name
Then a little voice perked up from the classroom:
It all just sounds like ooooooh…
Then a few more began:
Mmm, too young, too dumb to realize
And by then the chorus of angelic voices took Bruno to the sweetest symphony:
That I should’ve bought you flowers,
And held your hand
Should’ve gave you all my hours
When I had the chance
Take you to every party
‘Cause all you wanted to do was dance
Now my baby’s dancing
But she’s dancing with another man
What was happening here? I had a room full of 9 year olds, singing along together in harmony while still paying full attention to their work. I looked around in delight and realized that these are my kids. That we were put together by some divine intervention, that I was asked to join the fourth grade that year, that they were, as individuals and as a class, truly something special that I knew would change my life forever.
And I was right.
After a year of struggling to find some balance and ease, after relentless insomnia, after leaving my home in Malden, after leaving Chris, after finding my way through the emotional uncertainty post-Africa, I sat in my chair, listening to these kiddos sing along, and realizing, knowing that I had found a new kind of home. A home where a group of 24 students plus me would grow into a family unlike any other I had experienced.
I believe every experience, every person and every struggle comes to us exactly when it’s supposed to, and having this group of kids last year was my serenity. They brought a new wave of love and happiness into my heart and soul that I thought I had lost the year prior. They renewed my faith in hope and trust, and taught me how to love again.
I know I was their “teacher”, but they taught me more than I ever could have imagined.