cheesemonkey wonders

cheesemonkey wonders

Monday, February 20, 2012

Cherry Blossom Season in the Classroom

On a morning like this, when I have too many papers to grade, lessons to plan, and comments to write, I try to remember the essential sweetness of this moment in the school year.

It's the season of cherry blossoms in the Bay Area, and I see them coming out everywhere. At first it's just a hint of pink fuzz. Each day on my way home, I marvel at three beautifully restored Victorians that are fronted by a trio of flowering plum trees. On my drive to school each morning, I pass a long hilly driveway lined with cherry trees that form an ephemeral pink outline. Each day this month it has gotten pinker and pinker, and I think to myself, What a brave act to plan a planting that erupts in color for such a brief display. So much care and tending to make sure every tree stays healthy at at the same stage of growth to create this fragile outline that lasts for only a few weeks of the year year.

This is the same feeling I get about my classes right about now. They are no longer forming. They are formed. They just are.

My students and I know each other. And each class has formed a community. Expectations are clear, even when they are not being met. All the roles are in place, and we've been able to loosen up on enforcement of the rules a little bit. Students are now allowed to talk softly during morning announcements and to sit wherever they please while I take attendance. They know my blind spots and view morning attendance as something we are all responsible for together. When I call out, "Where is So-and-So?" I get an immediate response. "He's not here today" or "He's in the Bat Cave," which is our code for hanging out on the floor under the table in the front corner of the classroom where the phone lives.

We have our own dialect and in-jokes that no one else would get. When one of the quietest students says something without first raising a hand, one of the most boisterous students will bellow, "GIVE ___ A DETENTION!!!" And we all laugh. We have a shared history. We all know why it is funny.

Students also know me well enough now to tease me about my idiosyncracies. A student furrows his brow at an unexpected result and another student will call out, "TRUST THE FRACTIONS!" 

They know me. They get me. And I get them.

That is how I know we are entering the beginning of the end. This moment is fleeting. We are passing through it just as it is passing through us. And like the cherry blossoms, sooner than I expect, it will be gone, never to be experienced again.

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