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The Last Lesson

This article is from Ingrid Johnson’s Blog

The Two Stringed Ukulele

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Scelera – Creative Commons Flickr

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 It was only a few weeks ago that I was walking through school and some girls from my drama class ran up to me.

“This afternoon is our last class with you, isn’t it Miss?”
“Yes sweetie, it is.”
“We have a surprise for you!”

“Oh God,” I thought as they hurried away giggling.
“They’re going to prank me again…”

This class in particular had earned themselves quite a track record in this respect.

But they didn’t! Not this time.
They bought me a card.
Adorable, right?

Let us take a brief moment to acknowledge this. A bunch of 13 year olds, who most of the time couldn’t remember to bring a pencil with them to class, had actually gone out, found a card, written inside of it and brought it all the way to their last lesson with me.

And okay, this may not sound like the hugest of deals…
But it meant a lot to me. 🙂

So I had thought that was the surprise, and maybe even they thought it was, but by no means was it the most precious thing they gave to me that day.

I told them that because it was our last lesson, I wanted them to think back over our year together and choose some of their favourite drama games to play!
You know, for the last time.
They were quiet for a moment (which is always suspicious), before one girl put up her hand (also suspicious) and asked me,
“Miss, do you remember the first game we ever played?”
I didn’t. So she reminded me.

The game was called Pukanah.
I remember playing it in our very first drama class thinking that all the rowdy Maori chanting, clapping and stamping would get us energised and be a fun way to break the ice!
Instead, what I ended up with was a roomful of nervous 13 year olds, clapping awkwardly and BEGGING me to choose another game.

So we didn’t do it again.
I’d just figured it wasn’t their thing.
But now they wanted to play!
So that’s exactly what we did.
But this time was different!

They stamped,
They chanted,
And they sang!
They sang LOUD!

So much so, that as soon as we’d stopped I gathered them around to tell them all how incredibly proud of them I was. But one of them interrupted me.

“Miss Johnson! Do you remember what happened the first time we played that game?
We were all so nervous and shy…
And we all just kinda stood around looking awkward!”

Everyone started giggling and nodding at the memory.

“But Miss! Did you see us just now!”
“We’re totally confident!”

Then they were all talking…
And telling me things.
Things like much more confident they felt,
How happy they were,
And how much they loved me.

So I listened and I let them,
Because I loved them too.

But here’s the thing…
They could tell me all about how much I had taught them,
But by no means were they the only students in the room.

The fact is that for the 7 months I’d been at that school, I didn’t always know what I was doing.
And let’s be honest, I still don’t!
But there are a couple of things I’ve figured out.

Just one, simply, is that there is one thing you see a lot of when you’re a teacher,
And that’s beauty.

It doesn’t always look the same,
And sometimes you don’t understand it until much later.
But it’s there, in front of you.
All the time.

Sometimes it looks like a hand in the air,
As the ‘quiet one’ in the room begins asking questions.
Sometimes it looks like a student copying the notes down twice,
So her friend with a sore finger won’t fall behind.
Sometimes it looks like a ‘thank-you’,
A held door, a smile,
Or an emotional group selfie.

But it’s there,
Everywhere.
You just have to look.

And so here’s my resolution,
As late as it is!
That no matter how far I wander,
Or where I end up,
And regardless of how time and trials changes me,
I will always remember this lesson.

And I will never stop looking.

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