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I have had a week of driving, of not sleeping enough, of wearing myself a little thin. When you work for a school board that is roughly the size of Albania, you go through a lot of coffee. It’s been an exhausting week but it’s also been exhilarating. This week I got to be a fly on the wall in some amazing classrooms. It’s an incredible feeling to be in the zone as a teacher, to get that feeling of flow as you work with students whose attention is engaged and whose energy is focused on a common goal. It’s an equally amazing thing to watch someone else do it.
This week, while supporting a teacher, I got to see exactly that. This teacher was everywhere. She was both exquisitely focused on the students she was working with while at the same time being totally aware of those on the margins who were trying to get her attention. Her whole body was engaged; she was up, she was down, she was moving in and out of the group. Her face was expressive and her body language was electric. At one point, she had to remove a xylophone and mallet from a child who, after several reminders, continued to be disruptive. Without ever letting on that she was monitoring him, she noticed exactly the moment when he had calmed himself and immediately gave the xylophone back. If standing up and clapping wouldn’t have completely ruined her lesson, I would have done it, I had to fight off the urge. She was that good.
On top of her amazing skills, the best part for me was that she clearly loved kids. She found them engaging and funny, she was happy to see them, and she noticed their strengths first. I left the school that day in awe and feeling refreshed, reminded once again about the importance of the work that we do and how critical it is that we do it well. That magic interplay of personal disposition and teaching skills is like lightning in a bottle; you never know where it’s going to strike and packaging it is a fool’s errand… but… you’ll know it when you see it.
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