Once upon a time there was a little teacher who loved to teach. She loved to teach because she loved words and stories, and she was allowed to teach about words and stories. But she also loved to teach because each student who came to her class came wrapped in stories.
It was hard to see the stories at first, because there were so many of them: all the faces ran together, and she was trying just to attach names to the faces.
But as the days and weeks went by, she realized that all the names had attached themselves, and she realized that she was beginning to see the stories. The students carried the stories with them in their sleepy or wide-awake expressions, in their perfect hair and in their bed-head. Their stories slipped out in pencil-scrawls and in careful colored-ink cursive, became audible sometimes in eager answers to questions and other times in obstinate silences. And as she learned the stories, she found that when she smiled at her students, she wasn’t just smiling at them because they were her students, but also because of their stories.
The only times she somewhat regretted knowing the stories were the times when the students turned in essays which the little teacher had to grade. She loved reading the essays, because they gave her more of the stories, but she did not love affixing letter-and-number valuations to them. As she poised with her pen to mark the essays, the stories came flooding back to her, whispering of how that comment might sound to this student, of how discouraged that student had looked last week, of how excited another had been over this same essay.
The stories impeded her progress and made it impossible for her to retreat into her high citadel of superior rules from which to dispense judgements. The stories kept her out amidst the crowds, where she was exhausted and her hands became dirty, but she felt sure, too, that the stories made the comments she put in blue ink above the letter-and-number valuation better comments, that the stories made her kinder in her thoughts than she might have been.
When the day came to a close, and the little teacher laid aside her grading-pen in order to take up her blogging-pen, she found herself drained of words. Even though she was supposed to write about one of her favorite things — about stories — she had little to say. So busy had she been, all day long, with other stories, she almost felt that she had no story of her own.
But that, of course, was far from true, because this story belongs her.
©2013 by Stacy Nott