I will admit that I didn’t quite bounce out of bed on Monday morning, but by the time I got to first period with my freshmen, I had more bounce than Tigger in my step. The ALA Youth Media Awards announcement website was up on the big screen in my room and I could hardly wait for them to start. The timer was counting down and the closer we got to zero, the more I was shaking with anticipation. One of my students teased me that the whole thing would freeze when the timer reached zero.
(He was right – I needed to refresh! I did have a moment of panic…I suspect he knew that might happen.)
As they started making announcements, I got super excited waiting for them to name the winners. I remember being more than a little jumpy as a presenter was explaining the background of an award – and one of the girls noted that she loved how I was fangirling. (Later in the week she told me she’d shared with her friends that I had done that and they decided I was a cool teacher for it. Take note, friends. Even teenagers recognize that it’s cool to be really passionate about something.)
I followed that up with jumping up and down with what I’m sure were some embarrassing little squeals when I saw titles that I had read and loved being recognized. Even still I was surprised at how many books I had missed so I scribbled titles that I needed to track down so I could start catching up. (I actually don’t mind that this happens – it means that I won’t miss out on books I might otherwise have overlooked.) I think the squealing and the scribbling sealed how important books and reading is to me – it’s hardly an act; it’s who I am. I live and breath this in and out of the classroom – and I want to share this with them.
Also this week, I was wrecked by the losses of David Bowie and Alan Rickman.
I read about David Bowie when I woke up and checked social media. As I did, I remembered that my very first concert was when I went to see him and Nine Inch Nails in Hershey. I was a sophomore in college, there with a group of my brother’s hockey friends the fall after he’d passed away. It was a strange night (it seemed a strange combination of acts), but I remember more about Bowie’s set than NIN’s. I didn’t recognize half the songs he played – I knew more of his older songs (many of which have been played over and over and over again this week), but when “The Man Who Sold the World” came on, I was pleased to hear Bowie’s version again after hearing Nirvana’s on the airwaves constantly. I heard his version ringing in my ears when I fell asleep that night in my dorm room.
I invited my students to share a bit about their first concert experiences – or about the concerts they would most like to see – in a quickwrite. Their responses were all over the place, but the one thing that made me smile was that they all seemed to be really familiar with Bowie’s music. I won’t lie – I was impressed.
By the time we got to Thursday though, everyone was busy working on their papers and the kids were counting down the minutes to the beginning of their four day weekends.
Fourth period, while everyone was working quietly and I was helping one student get caught up on work missed while she was absent, another one gently caught my attention.
“Mrs. Minnich, I know I’m not supposed to do this and I’m really sorry I did, but I just turned in my paper and checked Facebook and I saw something that I knew you’d want to know: Alan Rickman just died.”
It reminded me of tracking down a student at lunch last year who shared a love of Terry Pratchett to tell him of his passing. Sometimes you just want to be in the company of someone who loves what you love, someone who will understand.
There is something beautiful that happens when you share who you are with your students.
They share themselves, too.
You learn what they love and what they cannot stand.
You find out about what you both have in common.
They are far less likely to hide in the corner and keep themselves to themselves if they see that you’re willing to put yourself out there.