Thursday, December 23, 2010

Smiling Before Christmas

I remember, as a new teacher, being admonished by veteran teachers "never to smile before Christmas".  I believe it had something to do with students not taking a smiling teacher seriously, especially early in the term.  I must say that I never took this advice to heart because, well, children just make me smile! 

I must say that my students were usually very well behaved, but as Christmastime drew near, the children were excited about the upcoming season, and maintaining good behavior became more of a challenge.  Dress-down days, which were school-wide, and believe me, not my idea, were especially difficult, as it is my observation that when children dress in play clothes, they want to play. These final days of Advent were as rough for the teachers who held the "No smiling before Christmas" philosophy as for those who didn't.  The students looked happy, but none of the teachers were smiling now!

One particular day, lots of things seemed to be going wrong, such as a fire drill at an inopportune time, a student accidentally knocking over and breaking a statue of a saint, petty squabbles, unexpected lunch duty, constant chattering, and a multitude of little annoyances.  What a day!  I must have been an optimist because no matter how rough a day it had been, I truly anticipated that tomorrow would be better, sort of like starting a new day with a clean slate.  

This is how the new day began:
As it was my routine to attend the 7:00 AM Mass each morning before class started, I knelt down to say a prayer before the liturgy began.  "Please God, don't let it be another day like yesterday!"  As I spoke this silent prayer, my kneeler collapsed.  I was stunned for a moment, and then I just had to smile.  God does have a sense of humor.  I think He was showing me that even when things seem to be collapsing under me, He can still put a smile on my face. My students should have been there.  They missed seeing the biggest smile before Christmas!

Joan Virzera

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