Help and its many forms

There are some moments I’ve experienced in the classroom that I will never forget. It’s in these moments that I learn grace. I learn how to be more human. I learn, quite literally, to behave more as an adult.

It’s a fact: there are times when you’re students are just straight-up annoying. The most helpful thing any one of them could do for you as a teacher is go and un-enroll in English school – quickly, too, before they change their minds. I was feeling these emotions very keenly one day while searching for something I had naturally misplaced. (My classroom towards the end of semester is a joke – one, big, messy joke.) One of my students (bless her precious heart) offered to help. I rather rudely blew her off, to which she responded by returning to her chair and wearing a I’ve-just-been-put-off expression on her face.

I quickly came around. “Dora, what’s wrong?”

“Why you don’t let me help you?” I had never heard such a sincere sentiment of inquiry coming from a student before.

“Ok, you can help me.”

And you know what? She found what I was looking for, that misplaced object that I couldn’t even tell you the name of anymore – she found it. And she found it because she wanted to help me. 

When class is over, my dismissal method on a good and energetic teaching day is to have the class line up at the door. They are allowed to leave after they’ve answered a questions correctly or spelled a word for me or beat me at Rock, Paper, Scissors. (Fun cultural and linguistic note: That game here, due to a literal translation from the Chinese language, is called Paper, Scissors, Stone.) Sometimes, when I’m feeling extremely generous or inspirational, I might hand out a little treat or tell each student an individual comment about their class performance that day.

On that day Dora helped me (and graciously so, considering I initially refused her offer), I dismissed her last just so I could tell her sorry for refusing her help.

Help comes in many forms; and when you’re a teacher, it may come in the form of a seven-year-old. A seven-year-old with more grace and patience than I like to give children credit for.

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