At the end


In the last hours of the last days of the last week, a lone teacher wanders across the ruins of the semester seeking a place of rest. Papers flutter in the wind, obscuring the sun. Students run after the papers looking for the ones marked “A.” These papers are light and float upward on the breeze, so they are difficult to catch. It takes a great deal of skill. The ones marked “B” or “C” are easier to find but still require effort to capture. The heavier papers, “D” and “F,” litter the ground; the crowd tramples them underfoot. A few students grab them from the ground and hurry off. Many of the students ignore the teacher; one or two bump into her and move on.



She remembers silence and wonders where it has gone. A thousand voices merge into a cacophony of sound; life is a roar of demands.



She grows numb. The noise blinds her, and she struggles to remember how she got to this place and why she is here.



Three young men approach her. They smile shyly and hand her a gift: three small pyramids and a sphinx, carved out of wood. “Thank you,” they say. The words help her focus. Her eyes adjust and she remembers their faces. Two are Egyptians on their way back home; they have spent the last year studying English. Both took part in the Egyptian Revolution. They carry dreams of democracy and a better life. The third man will return to Ghana to continue his studies in agricultural engineering. He tells me he will use his skills to help his country.



The teacher’s eyes brighten. She notices a small crowd of students standing before her, some with small gifts, but all with words of thanks. The young woman from Pakistan will start a foundation to help women in her country; the Korean woman needs to finish her degree in mechanical engineering; and the young man from Belgium will pursue a career in politics once he finishes his education.



One by one the students seek her out. They shake her hand or give her hugs. The quiet woman from Jordan kisses her on each cheek. They each speak the language of joy, and the teacher’s heart grows strong with gratitude. She thanks them in return.



Looking at all their faces, she sees the world and remembers why she is here.


NASA Blue Marble (Flickr Creative Commons/NASA Goddard Photo and Video)





Sadly, One of My Students is Failing


First, it’s important that you understand that as a teacher I try my hardest to help my students succeed.

Yesterday, one of my top students asked me what I was going to do for Halloween. I told him that I planned on staying home and passing out candy. Then he asked if I was going to dress up. “No,” I said, “every Halloween is the same; I always just go as myself.”

Later in the hall, I overhead this once bright student tell another student, “Teacher goes as a witch every Halloween.”

It makes me sad to see a student’s grade plummet like that.

Thankfully, I had lots of chocolate at home to console myself.


Tears for the Student Who is Failing