It was 9:00 am and students began to drift into the classroom. Several groups formed to discuss the sad reality of having a substitute teacher for the day. One young man walked slowly and deliberately toward me.
“Hi,” he said. “I know that you’re our sub today. I just wanted you to know that I want you to have a very good day.” After regaining my grip on reality, I thanked and assured him I was certain that we would all have a totally great day.
Many times throughout the day, I looked up to find him standing next to me, for one reason or another. Some inquiries were legitimate requests for information. In other cases, I’m certain that all he was seeking was a smile or other form of acceptance.
Very often, I wish that I could see into my students’ heads to determine what they really need or want. Is it a vote of confidence? Is it information? Is it direction and guidance? Or is it simply the smile that says, “I value and treasure you as you are.” Maybe I should assume that it’s all of the above.
When it was time to go home, my student bravely approached and delivered a formidable hug and thank you. Returning the thanks, I notified him that he added substantially to my totally happy and rewarding day. It’s my standard procedure to use sophisticated language, regardless of age. If kids don’t understand a word, they will not hesitate to let me know.
Several other students came by to hug me and in each case, I thanked them for being part of a terrific class. It was clear that my young man defined and set the tone for our day. Maybe the lesson is to emulate his strategy. All I’ll need to do is notify my classes first thing in the morning that I’m going to do everything in my power to make today the best one they can experience. Happily, it’s true. Shalom.