In the first class of the day I became anxious that management might look in the door and wonder what the hell I was doing.
The students sat, some on the heater, one on the floor, a few at desks. Each was reading a book for the most part. Occasionally one checked a phone but got back to reading pretty well given that I teach at-risk kids who have been bounced from their regular schools and most of whom come to me admitting that they hate to read.
I wasn't anxious the about the students. I worried management would take me to task.
I was sitting at a student desk, one leg crossed over the other, a book in hand, and had been reading for fifteen minutes, ever since I had helped Frank understand the word agape which had come up in his book. I had read ten pages of Alan Jacobs' The Pleasures Of Reading In An Age Of Distraction, looking up after each paragraph to scan for kids having or making trouble. There was none of that, so I had kept reading until anxiety interrupted me.
I haven't had the best relationship with management during my tenure. Imagining some manager looking in, I could hear them asking why wasn't I moving about the room checking in with kids. How could I know what they were doing if I wasn't teaching?
I almost wasn't teaching, but that was because I had set the structure of the class and was allowing them to learn. I got them into books today and over the last three months. Once they start reading, my job is to just keep things going. The only teaching left to do was to be a reader too.
It's a safe bet that management would see things in another way. That's the way it goes in schools. Management is paying me to do something and there I was looking like I was doing nothing much at all. Observing a class for a few minutes is no way to understand what is really going on. It takes understanding all that we have been doing in that classroom since September. The room full of silent readers doesn't just happen. Kids aren't wired for that. None of us are. It's a learned behavior, one that I've worked to help them learn, and from this they learn more than I could ever teach.
I tamped down the anxiety by remembering that I would hear the beeper on the outside door should any managers come by. Then I could get up and act like I was doing something management would appreciate. Or maybe I would stick to what I know is true and let the kids read. I scanned the room again, saw that everyone was still reading, and went back to my book. We all have so much left to learn and so little time to read.