My students walk in the door in the morning and this is playing. Expectantly, my students start humming the tune before they've even hit the entry to our classroom. Most of them have breakfast trays, meticulously curated to meet their unique tastes: one has Cinnamon Toast Crunch and OJ and another has grits and toast. Without thinking, they pass the OJ to one of my students who has taken a particular liking to it. He has a pile of it on his desk (there's no way he could ever drink all of it, it's a gesture of kindness). Desks don't belong to individuals, but to groups of people. Papers are sprawled across the desks, a sea of homework congregating in the middle of the group.
"Did you turn in your homework yet?" A helpful reminder from one student to another. "Are you going to science night?" Conversation begins to spring up around the classroom until the humming, pleasant sound of kid voices harmonizes with the background music. The soundtrack has now moved to this.
Slowly and steadily, my students come streaming in, leaving their home baggage at the door and stepping into our cozy, supportive, welcoming classroom. We are a well-oiled machine, connected by the triumphs and obstacles we face everyday. Post-it notes are slam dunked into the green basket in the front of the room. Today's sticky note job: Write one interesting fact about the state you're researching. I hear murmurs, "What's your interesting fact? Did you remember to write your name on the back?" I hear helpers, I hear supporters, I hear genuine interest.
For a moment I sit back and marvel at this. How did we get here? How did we come to the place where we have learned to accept the differences of one another and the sameness we all share in some small way? I can tell you that it has not always been this way — still isn't always this way.
But on days when our little world is running in content and perfect harmony, my heart is full of pure love for the students that have learned, cried, laughed, cheered, smiled, worked, persevered, given up (plenty of times), tried again, disrespected, apologized, lived, loved, and created together in room 06-222.
We have built a world just for us, and it's a good one. And so, to my students of 2013-2014 (who will never read this), I am so very proud of you — your heart and your mind. Go move mountains.