colorful clown toy

There were a few minutes left in the longest school day of the year. My students were deep into a battle of kickball when the emergency lights around the gym started blinking. The calm and panic-inducing voice commanding everyone to leave the building. We went out into the blinding sun and winter’s wind. Luckily, the sun was winning and it wasn’t too cold. The students walked to the safe zone and we waited to hear what could have caused the unexpected building evacuation. Fortunately, nothing was too wrong. A bag of microwavable popcorn burned. The smoke ended the day.

It was like I had never been in a classroom before. They looked at me like I was some kind of freak speaking a language they had never heard. In less than two weeks, either I had forgotten how to teach or they had no clue what I had taught them over the last four months. This was no dream. This was first period after the holiday recess. I scrambled for the right things to say recognizing that time has a way of bringing things back. Somewhere in a story about my high school teacher, they came back to life.

A student looked rushed to get to class. I often offer hall passes to students when they are late, especially when they look as stressed as this young person did.

“How are you?” I asked.

“Late,” he replied.

“Do you want a pass?” I asked.

“No, nobody’s gonna mess with a kid who has cancer.”

I was caught off guard. He went his way. I went mine.

Some things are bigger than being late for third period, huh?