There’s one in every bunch, and in this bunch, there were several– the ones you are warned about, the students who are going to give you a run for your money.
So when this group showed up, I was ready– stern voice, mean look, and no-nonsense demeanor in tact. Inwardly, I cringed knowing that surely, they’d be the death of me.
He showed up to school on the first day of school with a disheveled curly mop that had one side partially shaved. What was he thinking?! I rolled my eyes, sternly told him it was inappropriate, and he better see the disciplinarian immediately. When I sat down to make seating charts, I strategically placed him near my desk where I could keep an eye on him. He wasn’t going to get the best of me.
The classes began. Every period I would wait in anticipation of the antics. But there were none. He sat quietly by my desk. He worked. He listened. He turned in his writing. It was thoughtful, intelligent, and well-written. He took tests with acute precision and outscored most of his peers. He always offered a kind, “good morning” and a polite, “goodbye.”
Could it be that I had been wrong? That I was too quick to judge? This student about whom I had been warned, who had shown up on the first day in an obvious attempt to leave me frantically searching for the rule book was not quite who he seemed. He earned the course award and later asked, “Why did you choose me?” My decision had been simple. He was my hardest working student and easily my highest average. He (like many of his pre-judged peers) had changed my mind. They did not give me a run for my money. And in fact, as the year came to a close, I cried the hardest when they left.
Before leaving, he asked if he could make me a gift. “A coffee table,” he said. I excitedly told sweet husband I was getting a new table, and he skeptically replied, “Does he KNOW how picky you are?” Sadly, sweet husband is right. However, today the coffee table sits as a centerpiece in my living room. It is something I will cherish for years to come. Do I love the design? Yes, I do. That student of mine was incredibly talented. But more than that, I love all that it represents: my fault in being too quick to judge and being proved wrong. It serves as a blatant reminder that even though each year I set out to teach 100+ young minds, I am often the one that ends up doing a lot of the learning. And I wouldn’t have it any other way…