Friday, March 5, 2010

Small Acts of Kindness

My freshmen are getting ready to read Romeo and Juliet and "fickle" was one of our vocabulary words today. Fickle is a good description of my fortunes this week.

Monday was god-awful for reasons I won't go into in a public forum. Suffice it to say, I didn't just have a Monday. I had a thermo-nuclear, mutually assured destruction kind of Monday. The upside? When you have a Monday that bad, then the rest of the week has to be better, right?

Not necessarily.

When you're carrying around some bad mojo, it leaks out onto everything in your life. I had a big presentation at school on Wednesday. One of my classes produced digital stories from a personal piece of writing, and we premiered them in the auditorium in front of parents and half the school. It was a big deal, especially for the kids. I was at school until late on Tuesday helping my last minute kids frantically finish...and I was at school very early Wednesday morning helping my last minute kids frantically finish...and I spent my planning period Wednesday morning helping my last minute kids frantically finish. The last person finished her project about an hour before the presentation was supposed to start.

When I went to set up in the auditorium, every technical thing that could have gone wrong did. My school laptop chose that moment to lock up tighter than Fort Knox. The back-up laptop I borrowed from another teacher was so old, it wouldn't run the software. My sound person was unexpectedly out of the building.

I was as close as I've ever been to a go-to-pieces at school. I normally don't flip out over technical difficulties. I'm usually the calm person in a crisis situation. But that's the thing about bad mojo. It's already lurking in dark corners, and when a crisis occurs, it leaps out like a slasher movie villain to carve you up. For one bad moment on Wednesday, I didn't think I would be able to pull it together.

A wonderful thing happened. Several of my colleagues stopped everything they were doing and saved my bacon. My friend, Thomas, gave me his personal laptop and produced a rabbit out of a hat and fixed my sound. Jesse produced a portable hard drive and pulled my students' work off the server so I could put it on Thomas' computer. Brian came and babysat my third hour class so I could set up in the auditorium, and Amanda worked with me in the computer lab pushing those last few students to finish. My principal made sure Thomas' and Jesse's classes had someone covering them while they helped me.

My friends picked me up when I wasn't sure I could do it myself. Their kindness changed my whole week. My Monday crisis spilled over into Thursday, but I managed it without falling apart. In spite of the spillover, I was blown away by my 5th hour class on Thursday. We're having a "pennies for patients" competition to see which 5th hour class can raise the most money for kids with cancer. My class of 18 kids brought in over $50 of their own money in two days. They broke into their piggy banks, gave up birthday money, money they earned babysitting and mowing lawns, and I couldn't be more proud of them.

Today was a good day. My students wrote love poems using Shakespearean language and it was great fun. I laughed in every single class today. Then, at the end of the day, a student popped into my room with a whole derby pie.

"We had a party in my 6th hour class, and I brought pie, so I had my mom make an extra one for you."

Seriously. I'm sitting at my desk, eating it with a fork right out of the pie tin as I write this.

My Monday problem isn't fixed, but I can face it. Small acts of kindness can be huge. The tipping point from nervous breakdown to determination came when my friends stepped up and reminded me that no problem is unmanageable. I know it's true. My week started with mutually assured destruction and ended with generous teenagers and derby pie.

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