On Fridays, I typically leave school at the same time all the students do. And on some Fridays -- today, for instance -- as I walk to the bus stop, I have what I like to call my "Mr. Rogers days." On a Mr. Rogers day, I see as many as a dozen different students walking home, and all of them call out to me: "Hi Miss Brave!"
Sometimes they're walking home with relatives or friends in different classes, and they mutually realize that I teach both of them: "You have Miss Brave too?!" Sometimes they notice me up ahead and I can hear them whispering from behind: "Omigodit'sMissBrave!" Sometimes they spot me from across the street and they scream my name like I'm a rock star: "MISS. BRAAAAAAAAVE!" (You know that scene in The Graduate where Dustin Hoffman shows up at the church and screams, "Elaaaaaaaine!!!!" That's kind of what it's like.) Sometimes they introduce me to their families: "That's my writing teacher!" Sometimes they point out their houses. Sometimes they express astonishment that I have a house to which I go after school. Sometimes we stroll together for as long as a block, chatting about the weather and about our plans for the weekend. Once, a first-grader advised me to ride a motorcycle to school. I jokingly expressed concern that the wind would muss up my hair. Very seriously she explained to me about helmets and ponytails. "It will be fine," she promised.
On Mr. Rogers days, I smile and wave back at all of them -- and eight months into the school year, I've reached a 99% accuracy rate with their names! (Please remember that I have over 400 students on my roster...I'm pretty proud of myself for remembering anybody's name at all ever.) On Mr. Rogers days, I wish them all a good weekend and tell them I'll see them next week. And on Mr. Rogers days, I'm happy enough to mean it.