The Ripple Effect

Sometimes staying late at school is not productive in the sense that we set out to be productive.

But if you’re listening, you’ll catch some opportunities you would have missed otherwise.

Last night I had two young ladies who stopped by to hang out between practice and when their parents were coming to get them.

Tonight I had a ton of guys – all waiting until their game or match and just killing time.

Even still, these impromtu meet-ups give us chances to connect with students in ways that might not otherwise happen. After all, they initiated the visit and often start the conversation.

Last night my girls who usually are talking books with me discussed our love of cats, Sherlock, BBC, Dr. Who, and off-beat videos. Including this prize:

These girls gave me an opportunity to see and hear more from them and know more about them than I’d get in class. That goes both ways – but it has an effect on our relationships in the classroom, too. I could feel my brain using this new information to fine tune my next book recs for them.

Tonight I had guys – some I’ve had the joy of teaching and others I haven’t – who don’t generally talk books with me.  It started with some questions about that Chuck Yeager picture near my desk. One of them finally asked about it (oh…and this is one of the many reasons why I have so much STUFF in my room…because you never know what will spark a conversation that will make a connection) and delighted in the response that came from me. (Oh LORD am I still irritated all these years later about that picture…I’ll leave that for another post on another day.) It led to some conversation about Yeager’s autobiography and The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe. If he takes the bait with those (which should be evident by how he’ll be browsing the shelves next week), I have several more for him to chase down.

One of the guys I had last year started to talk about how he never really did read much of anything last year – expecting fully to get the same reaction from his friends. Didn’t happen. We ended up talking about how they were all sharing titles (Even the one that makes me wrinkle my nose and grumble — they reminded me that even that book does it’s fine work of convincing them that books are worth the time, effort, and their attention. Well-played, boys, well-played. It’s almost like you’ve been listening to me!), how one of them thought he’d read so much more if he was near a friend who kept recommending books to him, about how Alan Sitomer’s The Downside of Being Up was being passed around one table nearly every day. Watching these guys comparing notes about what they were reading in their classes and who was reading what and what they wanted to read next was awesome. I can only wonder what the one non-reader was thinking. And I wonder if I’ll see him contribute his own titles the next time we meet up.

A student had asked today about the sign one of my teddy bears was holding and I explained that it was about how teachers have influence beyond just the time we have with our students. That time is so fleeting, but the ripple effects…I can only imagine…

But I’m thankful for these students bringing me a chance to see some of the ripples in action.



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