So to preface, I would like to date this entry as September 7, 2011. That is it's date it occurred and the day that I originally wrote about it.
This morning I woke up not knowing that today I would have probably what will be my most memorable day as a teacher. The morning was alternating between pouring rain and annoying drizzles. I woke up late, not late enough to be a problem, but late enough to be irritated. I had Diet Coke for breakfast instead of coffee, enough said. I have a tendency to get upset about halfway to school and start crying for some distinctly undefined reason, either instigated by a song, or a series of thoughts, or because I have an overwhelming fear of wasted time, of wasting my time. This morning I think I was afraid of wasting my time.
When I got to school, the morning had a turn. There a half block away from the school doors was a parking spot, just the right size for my car, it was the only one on the block. THIS NEVER HAPPENS. I park and get my rain jacket on, jump out of the car and start booking it to the doors. Just as I take a few steps down the sidewalk, I hear a girl and her mother turn around and yell good morning to me and wave from the crosswalk. Having rain all over my glasses, I am unsure who this student is, so I just smile and wave back.
I finally made it to class, I'm only half soaking wet because of course I was wearing gore-tex, the rest of the morning goes by relatively smoothly. I was mostly just observing and assisting in small groups, we were learning to write BCRs today which is just a state test specific format for writing reading comprehension responses.
Then in one of my classes, as I was passing out some papers, one girl stopped me and excitedly a few questions.
"You have a red truck don't you?"
"Yes, well it's really an SUV but yes, I have a red truck."
"I knew it! I saw you get out of it this morning! Did you see me wave at you? That was my mom, too, and my little sister."
"Ohhh yes! I did see you. You waved at me in the crosswalk. I couldn't see very well, but I thought that was you!"
"Well do you remember where you parked? That was my house, you parked right in front of my house!"
I am fairly certain that I smiled and laughed and said something about how nice of a block it was and that at least I know it will be safe there. She laughed and we went on with the lesson and the rest of the day seemed to just blur by. It was an early dismissal day so the students left after lunch and then the teachers all had a faculty meeting. It felt like the longest meeting ever, and honestly I was just ready to go home. I was still having mild mental crisis and had not been able to shake it.
I trudged out to my car with many more things than I had arrived at school with, it was still raining of course. I unlock the car set my things in the back door, and then I hear "Ms. Roth! Ms.Roth! Hi, Ms. Roth!" I turn around and there is my student standing in her doorway with a staircase full of adorable younger siblings, two little sisters and a little brother. I yelled back "Hello!, what are you guys doing?!" I cross back across the street and am introduced to each of her siblings and they are all laughing and are very excited. I told them it was very nice to meet them all and that I was excited to meet their parents the next night, at parent teacher night. Then I poked some fun and told them to go back inside so they don't get all wet, my student gave me a hug and told me she would see me tomorrow.
I crossed back to my car and they all waved bye as I drove away, out of my rear-view mirror I saw the curtain of their front window move and a few little faces press against the glass and hands still waving.
I cried on the way home, too.
It was the first day that I really started to connect to some of the students. For the past several days, ever since we discussed the "J Factor" aka the "Joy Factor" in our seminar class, I was holding onto a sinking feeling that I might be getting ready to suffer the longest year of my life, that I really might be in the wrong place. I'm finally starting to see how much I might mean to some of the students. That just being there for students who don't have very many people there for them can mean so much.
I told my Dad this story the next morning on the way to school, well really I had told my mother and she had repeated it for him. He told me a few things.
"I don't care how long you teach, it will never get any better than that. You will always be a very important person. That's a tear jerker Margaret Helen. It will never get any better than that."
I cried on the way to school, too.