Friday night, riding home with two kids in the car looking back on a day well spent. I'm pretty sure it's not what Ice Cube had in mind when he rapped these lyrics in 1992, but today, "I got to say it was a good day."
The best part about teaching doesn't always happen between the bells. As I drove home from our high school's homecoming football game Friday night I couldn't help but smile at the preceding five hours of my life. Here's a run down:
I left school five minutes early because I had to go to Chic-Fil-a. Student organizations were having tailgates before the game, and my ninth grade leadership class participated. None of my students could drive to pick up the sandwiches so I had to do it. Organizing a tailgate doesn't seem like a big deal, but I dare you to get twenty-five 13-15 year-olds to plan one. One of my freshmen took the initiative to contact Chic-fil-a to ask if they could donate sandwiches for our tailgate. They gave us forty, free of charge. I was pretty happy about the free food, but I also appreciated the initiative of the student took to get the sandwiches donated, and she wasn't even able to attend the tailgate.
Tailgates were fun. One of the few events that teachers can enjoy with their students, not a typical chaperone experience where teachers have to "manage" students. Lot's of food, games, and about five or six hundred teenagers doing what teenagers like best, being together. My sixth grade son was able to join in on the fun with a few of his friends as well.
My TU colleague sat behind me at the game. Two current students sat with him. They spent the better part of the game just talking. I joined in from time to time, but by this point, my youngest, four years old, had joined me and I spent much of my time chasing him. It's still refreshing to relate to students in an environment outside of the classroom. In a location where both of you have gathered by choice. As much as students struggle with seeing teachers as real people, teachers too often fail to see the real people behind the "student" sitting in their classroom.
By halftime, I'd promised the four year-old that we would leave as soon as the homecoming kind and queen were crowned. We moved down the bleachers closer to the fifty yard line. As I sat waiting for the court to come onto the field, a parent recognized me. She started telling me how much her child enjoyed my class and how she appreciated all that her daughter was learning in the class. A short and concise conversation, but one that further encouraged me in what I do.
The homecoming court walked onto the field. Seniors arm-in-arm with the special people in their lives. Some chose parents to escort them out, some chose teachers. A surprising number of them had parents who were their teachers at our school. One student had his seven younger siblings walk onto the field with him. Another glimpse of the reality of students' lives that often fails to make it into the classroom.
In the end, a young man and young woman, both of whom I teach were crowned King and Queen. Two young adults with exceptionally kind personalities and excellent work ethics, whose acheivements in the classroom, in sports, and in other organizations stands out, were given the honors. It made me happy to see them recognized by their peers.
A four year-old can only make it so long at a football game, and the outcome of the game was pretty certain (and unfavorable). My sons and I departed, stopped on the way home to return Chic-Fil-a's warming bag, and drove home for the night. On the ride I asked my oldest, "so what did you think?" His only reply, "I had a great time tonight!"
I have to say it was a good day.