Occasionally at our school we have sub coverage. Meaning if a colleague is absent we cover there class for a portion of the 50 minutes that we don’t have a class. This is a source of grumbling, cajoling and laughing. We all have each other’s backs so deep down inside we don’t mind, but it is the unexpectedness of it that elicits the groan. And then the cajoling and laughing follow.
Personally, I like it. It is the best way to see how other people accomplish the goal of helping America’s future gain knowledge. Some classes are so well run, the students push me out of the way and go about their business. Then again, there was the time the kids and I wanted to run out of the room, arms in the air. The only thing that kept us in the room, was the idea that we would be close enough to freedom to taste it and the principal would send us back. In that situation we plodded through and hoped for the best. That was the day when I went to my class and that the kid that talked too loud, didn’t seem so loud, and the kid that lived to bug the other kids didn’t seem quite so buggy.
It was on one of these sub coverage days that a student heightened my sense of perspective. The irony is, I should have known it. At my school, I am the “yearbook lady.” Most of the time I can be seen with a camera in my hand, standing on a table or crouching low to get the right angle for a picture. Other times I’ll talk to the kids to draw out their personalities and then take a picture. The look depends on the conversation. If I want them reflective, I’ll ask a question. If I want high energy we’ll joke around for a while.
On one of these days I was in heaven, also known as a language arts or writing class. This was one of those classes where my friend turned them into young Twain’s, Dickinson’s or fill in the blank with your favorite great author. They were on it and apparently there was nothing I could do to offer them assistance. I joked and said “aight, I see how it is.” That’s teenage language for “apparently my presence isn’t valued so I’ll go elsewhere.”
At that moment a girl looked at me hard and said, “You went on a community service project with us.” I had, and that will be material for another blog. I nodded and said yes. She continued, “You were with my group.” I said, “Yes, I remember you.” I was thinking “Golly girl, we’ve talked several times since then, but o.k.” She said, “I didn’t recognize you without your camera.”
I thought about all those times since the community service activity we had spoken, and realized I did have the camera. However, the slightest change in my appearance changed her perception of me. Kind of like how the change of an angle changes how the picture looks. And, kind of how the angle we choose to perceive a moment determines our mental picture of that moment. Sans the camera my joking language was the only way she could recognize me.
Since then my moments have taken on one of those slow shutter speed cameras. This way I can get a wider perspective so I don’t miss anything. I love those moments when the kids teach me something to make me a better writer. See, I told you my friend was a good teacher.