I’ve been catching all the young teachers I know and pestering them to begin an online teaching journal of sorts. I think I am doing this out of a desire to take stock and watch them take stock of how far they’ve come and how much farther we must all go.
Sometimes I return to old posts written here on my blog from a time when not knowing how to take classes was my biggest weakness and strength. I don’t know how much of what I carry each day into the classroom now is a betrayal of what I haven’t been able to reconcile on my own, with myself, inside of myself. I am 34 and I still feel most lost when I have lied to other people, smallest when I watch in amazement when people I admire refuse to lie and are just silent and smiling when lying would’ve been so much easier.
Their refusal to lie sticks to me like pink bubble gum on chappals. Everywhere I walk is heavy with a personal stickiness that no one else knows or cares about.
In class yesterday, we talked about best revenges. I was carried away by own fondness for Lady Di and couldn’t stop gushing about her black off shoulder dress. Nothing tops that- I told them, until a student who disappears into himself every time he speaks (like Salvador) said something that made me laugh and also tore me a little. It’s a self-help mantra, yes but the words “kill them with your success, bury them with your smile” made me think about the gratifying sound of silence and the power there is in not having to do anything when something threatens to eat you from inside and outside.
When I enter a classroom, I am no longer the lying, small, distrustful, jealous, threatened, threatening woman in perpetual love. I am a teacher willing to be moved by students, and their willingness to smile. I am grateful for the reassuring presence of classrooms in my life. It’s here that it doesn’t seem to matter how broken I am.
Late last evening a student who has been carrying water filters in his neighbourhood to make money messaged to ask if I knew any doctors for severe arm pain. This is also another huge part about being a teacher – not having answers but wanting to help.