I am Real

by Cloud @ lifeofcloud.net

One time, while substitute teaching for a grade five class I absolutely adore at the school I consider my home, one of the boys came up to me and gave me a high five. He followed it up with this conversation:

Him: You’re the best teacher ever.
Me: Why?
Him: I don’t know! You’re the coolest! You’re, like, REAL!
Me: Real? What do you mean?
Him: Like, you stop teaching to start singing songs with us or make Star Wars jokes. That’s awesome. And you don’t get mad when we act weird.
Me: I’m weird. I was even weirder when I was your age! Why would I get mad if you are weird? It’s cool to be weird!
Him: EXACTLY! You’re real.

They say kids are the best judge of character because they are most honest. If this is so, I guess the best way to describe me is “REAL”. I sing television theme song music with them, I play kings court with them when I’m on duty, I do hand games with the kids when they’re standing in line for something, I let them figure out for themselves where their actions might not have been acceptable rather than telling and disciplining them with anger, I involve them with their learning and ask how they want to go about doing it, I break “teacher rules” in the open for them to see, I let them break “student rules” that both they and I can agree upon as being ridiculous and merely a way to control rather than allow student expression, I encourage being themselves, no matter how silly it is, but I also encourage respect when necessary for me and their fellow classmates. I don’t hide behind the title of “Miss Amendola” or “Teacher”; I let students know I am as real with them as I am with everyone else. If I’m not ‘me’ with them, eventually they’ll figure me out to be a phony and what kind of impact could a phony possibly have on the life of a child?

I’d much rather be REAL.

With Love,
Claudia Amendola