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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Always Teaching

Last minute communications had been issued, exit conversations were held, and end of day high fives had been handed out. A hectic, but fulfilling school day had concluded. Because I was still talking to my kids as we made our way downstairs as they began making their way home, I uncharacteristically found myself on the first floor, where I spied our  principal who was monitoring one of the street exits.

She had recently returned to our school after a couple of days away for training or meetings. I made my way over to  sarcastically introduce myself  and genuinely welcome her back. While reaching out to shake her hand, I said, "I remember the face, but I don't quite remember your name."  She replied "Mrs Smith, and you are?" We laughed, shook hands, and I turned around to head back upstairs. Then a bloody murder scream snapped me around to see a little girl led by her mom coming back in through the double doors.

The mom looked frantic. The girl, flushed with pain and confusion, had blood streaming down her face. There was a request for a band-aid, but I met that request with a "come with me." I scooped the little girl up, which was met with an seemingly impossibly louder scream, when the little one couldn't see he mom, who I asked to follow me upstairs to my room.

In the same drawer that I keep confiscated student distractions, various contraband, and my secret stash of candy, is a quick pack of medical care supplies. Rubber gloves, bandages, cotton balls, alcohol wipes, etc, all at the ready for minor elementary wounds. I sat the girl in my desk chair and handed her a couple of the many Spongebob's that adorn my desk in an effort to calm her down. It worked. Of course it worked, everybody loves Spongebob, even when sweat and blood have made your child-fine hair stick to your face.

A little swabbing, a little cleaning, and a fresh new band-aid fixed the little one up. She handed back the yellow toy that decorates a grown man's work space, gave me a little hug, and grabbed mom's hand to leave. I hadn't really noticed through all the chaos that a couple of my students had stayed afterword to help recover our classroom and set-up some morning elements for me. "That was so amazing Mr Johnson!", one of them exclaimed, "You were like a doctor", said the other. Of course it was neither, I was just doing what came naturally. I've seen much worse and I have had a lot of practice with such minor incidents as a father of a thirteen year old boy. I saw a kid that needed help. I helped.

Then the realization that even though the school day may be done, I'm always teaching. My helpful students made the connection to some of the lessons on community that we've had this year. "You showed that little girl such compassion" the students observed, saying further "just like our community circle on compassion."

As a teacher, you don't know if you reach the kids with your words. That day, I was sure that I taught my kids through my actions. I'm always teaching.

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