Today was the students’ first day. Only a bee sting on a student’s eyelid during lunch outside, a long email from a parent concerned about bullying, and confusion over where lockers were located with several students being mistakenly assigned to the same locker. Not bad for the first day.
Today I brought a bunch of random objects to my classroom: hammer, statue of Avalokiteshvara, keys, candle, geode, scissors, fork, remote control, harmonica, thumb piano, bottle of aspirin…you get the picture. I asked each of the students to choose one and share why they are like that object. Though I asked them to think metaphorically, there were a few who could only muster the literal. I am like this shoe because I like to run. From their responses were clear signs of the work ahead this year.
It is amazing to me that in such a simple game, the fears and passions, the challenges and hopes, the spirit and yearnings of my students were consciously and unconsciously revealed today. There was laughter, recognition, and surprise as each student found and shared their own personal connection to the object they chose.
This work of being a teacher is enormously complicated and layered. It is always new, always challenging, always about building constructive relationships and community that pushes all of us to work at being our better selves. It is sometimes a miracle (and a lot of hard work) that we actually achieve a semblance of this promise.
I hope that in a meaningful and significant way, I will be able to reach all my students this year. They have already begun to reach me.