Yesterday afternoon I headed to the school where I did my first year of teaching. It’s always great to go back to the place where I discovered that maybe this crazy teaching dream really could work out. It’s in the town where I live and a rival to the school at which I currently teach. Whenever they play my current school, going to games is a 2 for 1 bargain because I get to see former students from both.
When I arrived, some of the students from my first year teaching ran up to say hi. I racked my brain to come up with all of their names. It reminded me of Billy Collins’s poem “Schoolville“.
Two students who often struggled mightily in the classroom were pros on the court, smashing balls across the net. There’s been a good deal of controversy about whether learning styles do or don’t exist. I won’t get into that in this post, but I will say that these were totally different kids on the court, and I only wished I’d been able to find a way to tap into some of that in the classroom.
I watched another student get discouraged as the match began not to go his way. The fascinating thing was he adopted a nearly identical posture to the one he took in my classroom when he was struggling with an assignment. I wanted to scream, “Get out of your head! Forget about the balls you haven’t returned and focus on the one flying at you!” or tell a stupid joke, which always seemed to make things better when he got in a funk in my classroom. They frown on these sorts of things at tennis matches though, so I just watched.
After 45 minutes or so, I headed over to the girls’ softball game. Most of the girls I knew in the game were from the current school I teach at. It was great to see these laughing, confident young women, some of whom were reluctant to speak in class.
The afternoon reminded me that our students are more than the kids we see for 45min five times a week.