Wednesday, June 11, 2014
My grandparents lived in Middletown while Danny and I were growing up, which is about a 25 minute drive from Dayton. We frequently spent the night at their house, and while my mom usually drove us down there, every once in a while, Grandma would come pick us up in her Cadillac with maroon interior and seat belts that didn’t go across your chest.
One afternoon, Grandma drove us back to her house in a serious rain storm. Like one of the worst I can ever remember. Danny and I crouched down in the back seat having the time of our lives. We were giggling and singing and watching the rain beat at the windows. It’s one of my most distinct memories from growing up.
I didn’t find out until years later that my grandmother was terrified that entire car trip. Even with the windshield wipers on high, she couldn’t see 10 feet in front of us. She was so afraid of driving off the road or into another car, but Danny and I had no idea. We felt entirely safe with Grandma at the wheel.
Sometimes I don’t realize how much my students trust me. They believe me when I tell them that the project is worth 100 points. They believe me when I say I’m taking away participation points (that may or may not exist).
A few weeks ago during my notoriously small 8th period class (we average about 4 students a day in that class), we heard what sounded like 4 or 5 gunshots outside. Immediately one of my students grabbed her purse and stood up saying, “I’m getting out of here.” I calmly told her, “No, you’re not. Just take a deep breath and sit down. You’re safer in here than outside.” And to my astonishment, she did it. She sat down and continued reading about photosynthesis. My words alone convinced her that while I was at the wheel, she’d be safe.
I’m amazed at how much my students have grown this year…how much I have grown. My classroom has moved from being a place where fights took place to a place where kids can take refuge.
I look back to that day with Grandma and Danny in the car. We were oblivious of the dangers. My students are not oblivious of the dangers in their neighborhood and their school, but the least I can do is give them a safe, predictable place where they can learn.
P.S. It wasn’t gunshots we heard, just some poorly timed fireworks.