Sunday, April 01, 2012

Caught off Guard

My best guess is that if the quality of my teaching was to be judged on student outcomes this year, I might end up as ineffective, especially when compared to last year's scores. Surviving this year has undoubtedly been difficult, and it has often left me feeling ambivalent. And yet.
In his powerful book of essays, The Hungering Dark, Frederick Buechner writes a prayer:
"Catch us off guard today. Surprise us with some moment of beauty or pain so that for at least a moment we may be startled into seeing that you are with us here..." My wife and I had the entirety of the prayer read at our wedding. The truth of it encompasses so much of what we do.
Last week, on a Friday no less, a student or two caught me off guard. For the entire school year to date, this one student, full of good intentions, has failed to accomplish any reading assignments at home.
But here she was, eight chapters into The Lord of the Flies, up to date on her reading and with the type of annotations I expect from my students. Tucked into her notes was a deep and profound question, but I can't remember it. Instead, I remember the lump in the throat, the "moment of beauty."
I have learned this year to not let my highs get to high or my lows get to low. It is what it is as the cliche goes. But I was thankful for the moment.


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