Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Low Down Noun Eater

Today I felt it for the first time. It happened in a brief, shimmering instant during my last-period first grade ESL class, which is stuffed to the brim with adorable, excitable kids who cannot sit still or keep their mouths shut long enough even for me to bribe them with stickers.

We were learning about nouns -- more specifically, we were learning about how a noun is a special name for a word that is a person, place or thing. I had just played this funky song called "The Low-Down Noun Eater" that I miraculously downloaded for free off the Internet, about a monster who eats every noun in sight.

I knew they would love it, and they did. When I paused the song in the middle to ask them what they'd just heard, they could hardly contain themselves.

"Whoa, whoa, one at a time!" I found myself saying, and that's when I felt it for the first time this year: the teacher's high. That feeling you only get when something clicks -- when something finally, finally, finally goes right.

I went to bed at 9:15 last night and was still exhausted this morning. I just found out that a fellow freelancer at the site of my Dream Job -- the place where I would have given up teaching in a heartbeat to work -- got hired full time. And I've lost so much weight recently from stress that all my clothes are huge on me and I feel ridiculous and dowdy every day compared to the other teachers.

So I needed that moment, fleeting and ephemeral as it was. I needed it to remind me why I thought I could do this in the first place. I needed it to remind me that my kids have so much joy in them that it would be totally unfair to stifle it all the time.

I don't know how it fits into the workshop model. I don't know if my administration would approve. But at that moment, I didn't care. Will they remember next week what a noun is? Maybe. But will they remember that Miss Brave let them boogey down while they were packing their schoolbags? I hope so.