Monday, August 9, 2010

Annual Roller Coaster Day: The First Day of School

Need I say anything more than "Whew!" What a day.

So, naturally, when I got home, I wasn't in for any reflecting. As light poured from the box where Sir Coolman resides, I placed my hands over my face and growled loudly, scaring PBJ into her igloo. I wasn't in for it at all, and left my room.

I drove to the post office and checked my box. What was inside but information about the Responsive Classroom. Thumbing through its pages, I realized that my attitude was NOT conducive to enhancing anyone's learning environment. I went home humbly, opened the drawer, and Sir Coolman out of his box.

The image in the mirror was of myself. I was dripping with sweat as I ran back and forth across campus, trying to fill every need I could. I went to the office and made copies. I ran to the portable and got kids for teachers. I hauled boxes of heavy things. I did this in air so hot and humid it was like trying to walk through some kind of soup that had replaced the usual air. A child came up to me, and I smiled at them and responded to whatever question they'd asked. But I didn't actually feel like smiling.

The images in the mirror were replaced by a somewhat smiling Sir Coolman. "Do you know what you've just seen?" he asked.

"I saw myself being miserable, but still trying to cater to the needs of a student."

Sir Coolman smiled a bit. "I suppose you think you deserve some sort of compliment."

"Not at all. Just doing my job, sir."

He knotted his eye brows in confusion. "Well...I'm giving you one anyway! So take it, and...and...reflect on why you received it." His familiar face disappeared and I was suddenly looking at myself and the room surrounding me. I started to put the mirror back. Then I thought of something. "There was something else too, you know?" Coolman's face again appeared outline in the mirror's frame. "You didn't show me a roller coaster."

He looked even more confused than before. "A roller coaster? Why, what on earth do you mean?"

"The first day of school is always Roller Coaster day."

"I've never heard...." He stopped, getting the joke. He smiled, wider than I'd ever seen him smile before. "That's a good one...You were comparing the chaos of your day, and the entire idea of the first day of school with the chaotic unexpected lightning-paced experience of a roller coaster! Oh! Oh-ho-ho-ho my!"

Then, for the first time since I laid eyes on the face that lies behind my mirror, Sir Coolman laughed...loudly!

He laughed, and he laughed, and he laughed, and he laughed. After he'd finally gotten control of himself and was able to breathe again, he managed to pay me his second compliment of the day. "How very clever! I'll have to remember that one!"

Whether or not he realized it, he brought to my attention something else that's extremely important in this field - the art of taking an uncomfortable situation and being able to laugh heartily about it while learning from it.

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