Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Tie Game



Before school this morning, I was in my classroom reviewing Lyanne for her makeup test with Maggie coming along for moral support. Lyanne missed Friday's exam while in Cozumel for a family wedding and wanted a refresher before she took Test # 2. We were about half way though when Taylor came in. Taylor, one of my former players and the lead in this fall's musical, Oklahoma!, as Laurie, had decided to wear a blue and gold striped tie with her Wednesday school oxford uniform. Her twin brother, Stephen, had attempted to tie it but his effort had gone awry so she came to me for help. That's logical- I have approximately 250 ties, including one that was a gift from Taylor. She was dumbfounded when I told her I don't know how to tie a tie and that all of my ties have been knotted by our WCS middle school administrator, Mike White. I saw her later in the day and she had persuaded her Bible teacher this year, Preston Hill, to tie the tie for her, completing her look which was terrific and stylish, not always easy to pull off with a school uniform!

All that leads us to Jean. I can't say I know her well yet except she's one of those students you immediately like. A wonderful young lady who spent her elementary and middle school days at the Catholic school next door to us, Jean enrolled in WCS as a freshman in August and sits front and center in my fourth period Bible 1 class. Last Friday, I noticed her tennis shoes, blue in color, were covered by a pattern of white doves. I told her I had a tie with the same white dove/blue background theme and I would wear it Monday and we would be twins. I did and we were. Of course, I asked her Monday what tie she wanted me to wear on Tuesday and she answered green, and I fulfilled her request. Yesterday, she told me a red tie with a white shirt would be nice and I complied today, to the chorus of a number of compliments. This morning, she gave me instructions for tomorrow- purple tie with blue shirt. Yes ma'am- laid out and ready to go. And when she saw me in the hall at the end of the day, she gave me marching orders for Monday- yellow tie, pink shirt. (Friday is jeans/school spirit day.) I got a kick out of one of her classmates who was standing there asking, 'Why can't I pick out your tie?' Without missing a beat, my new fashion guru replied, 'Because I started it.' There you have it- my fashion world in a nutshell now in the control of a fourteen year old girl I only met last month. And when she says, 'Three Stooges tie with a pinstripe shirt,' well, I'll be ready for that, too.

You might think all this is silly but I don't. One, I don't have to make many wardrobe decisions in the short term and if Margaret, the fifth grader who grades me every day, doesn't like it, I can just blame it on Jean. But teaching isn't about ties- it's about connections. I've mentioned before that I taught with a teacher fresh out of college who told me he didn't want to be a role model or an example- he just wanted to teach and go home. Guess how long he lasted? Guess how long it took for the kids to see through his personal mission statement.... and he was smart and he was not a bad guy. He just had no clue about teaching. People loved my parents who were both teachers because they took the time to find out the lives of those who they came in contact with. And so, even though I have to get help from my students with my computer which confounds me and my desk is messy in spite of the lovely Megan Hill's best efforts, I still can ask Armani everyday about his grandmother who just had a stroke. Or inquire of Lowell about his sister who played for me and went into the military. Or find out if Nichole, an awesome young lady from China, is playing the piano after school in the front lobby. Or question  Kaitlyn on the latest One Direction news. Or converse with Kayla on how her older awesome sibling Giselle is adjusting to college life. Or commiserate with Bruse that we still have two weeks to wait until the return of the best TV show ever, Revolution. They never taught me that in my student teaching and I know I've been a slow learner. It's been a process for me but I've discovered from my many years of teaching that subject  matter matters but student connections make it stick. You see, it all ties together- just ask Jean.

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