I have had an awful lot to do this week between teaching and taking my graduate classes. I have stayed late at work or worked late at home every night this week, and I was gearing up to settle in for another long night at school tonight, grading papers and planning.
I did my usual after school chores and settled into my desk around 3:45 or so. I was just jumping in to a stack of papers to grade when two of my students bounded into the room. These girls had been hanging up some flyers for a fundraiser, and they sometimes stay in aftercare. They came by to chat for a while, and a little while later we were joined by another one of my students. And all three of them stayed a while. Then one of them left, but two of them stayed a little while longer. And all these students are just the best. But I watched the clock tick by ...... 3:55, 4:04, 4:15. Thinking about the papers to grade, the plans to make, the lesson plans to type. But then I stopped and took a breath and let it out. Because I realized that nothing I can teach these girls -- no grammar, no reading, nothing -- might end up meaning as much to them in the long run as standing in my classroom after school telling me about their lives. And nothing that I could possibly be doing -- no grading papers, no planning lessons, nothing -- could come close to being as important as listening to them and making them feel welcome. Which I hope I did.
Because I am not the best teacher. No, not by a long shot. I fail every single day and there are always about 11 different ways I could have done something better than I did. But I have some students who like to be in my classroom, who might feel at least a smidge at home there. If they have to be at school after hours, they don't mind spending a little of that time in my room. And I pray to be the teacher that my students deserve. And I praise God for plugging in the holes.