I am a teacher. That used to be something to be proud of. Actually, I still am. When I announce to people that I am a teacher, I am constantly amazed when I don’t get an enthusiastic reply. Especially when the other person is also a teacher. Where’s the camaraderie? Fortunately I have a few I work with who actually do this job because it’s what they feel called to do. With them I can share.

There’s much about teaching that it is difficult to share with non-teachers. Even when I share the shareable, it generates much open-mouthed shock. “Seriously?!” is a frequent response.

What a hoot this job is.

This week, I introduced to 7th grade language arts students their latest project – a research paper. And there was great rejoicing: *cricket-cricket* They were to research a particular THING and give the who-what-when, etc., of its invention. In order to make it as interesting as possible, I spent a couple days mentioning true stories which had them intrigued and hopefully firing up some enthusiasm. In small groups, I had them brainstorm individual lists of things they’d like to know more about – Who created the first hot air balloon? How about the hula hoop? Then I met with the group and asked them to share their favorite topic they wished to explore.

“Puppies!”

Um…well, when it comes to who made it – God! End of paper. Maybe something less…alive?

Next kid: “Skateboarding!”

Well, how about skateBOARDS? That would be something created, and you could also include some stuff on skateboarding…

Next: “Soccer!”

Okay, how about soccer BALLS, then… well, you know – like I just told Mr. Skateboarding here.

“Mozart!”

No kidding. It was a very long day.

But my favorite came when one of my darlings was sitting and reading a book when everyone else was creating their lists. I redirected him and his eyes flashed fire. He muttered some excuses which I put the icksnay on, and as he continued to mutter, I got on my teacher voice and suggested strongly that he would be very wise to cease arguing with me and get to work. He did, but he was steaming.

As I sat with the group later, he continued to scowl at me and I continued to ignore him. I made positive eye contact a few times – was I showing him kindness and forgiveness or just in-his-face letting him know I wasn’t cowed? I started around his table asking for their topics. This group was better.

“Braces.”

Oh good – I’d been suggesting it all day and was hoping someone would look into it.

“Toothbrushes.”

“Cell phones.”

“Football helmets!”

Finally, I made it to Scowly-scowlerson. He turned slowly and looked at me, his eyes narrowed, and the word hissed out of his mouth:

“Poisons.”

No winner of an Academy Award’s got anything on me. I didn’t even bat an eye. I nodded thoughtfully, then said, “Well, as you know, the library would have volumes and volumes on that topic. Perhaps you could narrow it down to one specific poison?”

His eyes narrowed even more. “Maybe,” he said, “the type that paralyze your muscular system so that your diaphragm (bet he can’t spell it) won’t work and you stop breathing.”

I nodded again. “There are still several of those,” I said. “Perhaps you can narrow it down to one specific poison?”

“Herbs.”

“Hm?”

“Herbs. Poisonous herbs. Maybe the kind that paralyze your body but your mind continues to work. Or the kind that infiltrate your circulatory system and slowly choke off your-“

“Sounds good,” I said. “Just make sure it’s specific enough so you can get good information.”

He looked pleased…and a little eager… as he headed to the computer to do his research.

I don’t think I better leave an open coffee cup sitting around for awhile.

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