But some teachers seem to go above and beyond any normal person's expectations of courage. In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week--which should last all year by the way--I would like to say that the most courageous teacher I've ever seen is my children's music instructor, who willingly and repeatedly gives entire classes of elementary students something called "Boomwhackers."
Hand one of these to any kid and I guarantee the first thing they will do is look for something or someone to hit. Not only that, but they make noise. Educational, musical noise, but still.
I sat in my son's class the other day as they presented what they've been working on this semester. There were only 17 kids, and these are fifth graders--the oldest kids in the school, the last month of the school year. In other words, this is the most mature level of students this teacher ever works with.
Each kid got two Boomwhackers in preparation for a really cool rendition of "You Ain't Nothin' But a Hound Dog." While the teacher was talking, the kids fiddled with the Boomwhackers. Well, of course they did. How could they not? They banged them together, they knocked them on the floor, ever so gently, but naturally, they made noise.
She told the kids to please keep them quiet. She looked to one side of the room, and Boomwhacker noise came from the other side. She glanced in that direction, and little Boomwhacker sounds came from the other side. This went on and on. I didn't get the feeling that the kids were being mean at all, or even trying to be ornery or silly. It was just the inevitable result of handing a bunch of kids two Boomwhackers apiece. Meanwhile the teacher continued talking, unruffled, occasionally asking them to please be quiet.
By this point I think I would have yelled at these kids. Heck, I never would have given anybody Boomwhackers to begin with. This teacher is relentlessly positive, a trait I very much admire and unsuccessfully aspire to. She is also so, so very brave.
Happy Teacher Appreciation Week to all of you brave and wonderful souls who teach and nurture our kids.