The bell rang, everyone is sitting in their seats. They're silent. Working on the yellow paper; they read the board and picked it up from the front of the room, just like they're supposed to.
One student looks around, realizes he doesn't have that yellow paper, and gets up to get it.
I take attendance. It's one of the very few times all trimester that every student is in class, and on time.
They start to finish their work, and look up at me. Waiting to hear what I have to say.
Man, I have so much to say. I want to tell them to act right, and to make good choices. To be good people. To treat others as they would like to be treated.
I want to tell them that these years may be hard, and awkward and just plain awful, but that it will get better. That they will become more confident. And they will begin to trust in themselves, and make decisions on their own.
I should have brought in some juice and bagels. I'll bet half of them haven't even had breakfast for one reason or another.
I would love to give some of them a big, huge hug. Some of them look like they really need one, bad. I would love to go watch them play in their games since they don't have anyone in the stands rooting for just them.
I'd love to share with them my passion for exercise, and fitness. That playing outside isn't uncool. I wish they still loved to ride bikes, and go for walks, and run around and have fun.
I take a quick survey. Can I see a 14 year old Drew in the crowd? Is there a teenage version of Jordan?
They all sit there and they wait for me. I have an hour to talk with them, find out about them, steer them in the right direction.
I say, "¡Buenos días, clase!" Half of them answer, the other half just sit, still waiting. There are 37 (well, times 2) eyes, wondering. I know what they're thinking. Is this going to be boring? Will there be a lot of work today? Will we have to do a lot of writing?
I delve into the wonderful world of adjective / noun agreement, and I see their sighs. Here we go.
Sometimes I feel the same way. I wish we had more time. More time in the day to make connections, I mean more connections. I wish the kids knew that, even though there are 140+ of them, I really do care about them all. I mean, I think they know that. But I don't know for sure.
A lot of times, I can picture myself sitting there. Quiet, worrying about if anybody is looking at me. Wondering if the teacher notices me, that I've done my homework. Thinking about practice, and friends, and boys, and what I'll wear tomorrow, and what's going on this weekend, and...oh, was I supposed to write that down?
They listen, answer questions, they take notes, they practice with partners, out loud and on paper. All of the things that students in school should do.
I crack a few very corny jokes, they laugh. I tell a quick story about Drew in his little pre-shcool, they laugh.
I tell them how important it is to take initiative, to study, and to do well.
I hope they listen. I hope they do well. I hope they make good choices.
I hope they know I care about more than textbooks, and worksheets and power points, and taking notes and being quiet and sitting in rows.
I hope they know I care about them. And the people they are growing up to be.