Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Dragon of Awkward

I feel somewhat bad for the nameless Loft photographer who attempted to come into my classroom today to take pictures.  When the door opened, I looked at him and my lectured screeched to a halt.  I stared at him for what felt like a long time (though it was probably only a matter of seconds), trying to figure out what was happening and who would just barge into to a class in-progress--and then I saw the high-powered camera he had in his hands and everything clicked into place.

Being who I am, I pretty much narrated my entire thought process, "Oh, and who are you... a photographer?  Are you here to take pictures of the class?"

Even as I was talking, another part of my brain was thinking, "No, just no.  Not these kids."

I should stop for a moment and explain.  Last year when I taught a class of the same name, I had a rowdy room full of self-confident, smart-a$$, BRILLIANT kids.  Seeing a camera, they would have jumped up to pose dramatically or come up with an on-the-spot reenactment of a battle of wits involving pens and origami hats or something even sillier and outlandish.  I never had to worry when I asked, "Who would like to share?" that I was going to get crickets.  They were those geeks--the ones not unlike myself, really rather relish the theatre of it all and who would, if provoked, recite all of Monty Python's skits while on the city bus.

This year, I have a slightly smaller group of utterly BRILLIANT, deeply shy, perfectly NERDY kids.  I had a couple of students desperate to share their work but so unable to read in front of a group that they had me read their entries for them.  Only now, four days in, have they, with my coaxing, very, very, vvvveeerryyyy slowly begun to trust me and each other enough to flail around and squee a bit when things are going well in class.  (Today, in fact, one of them was bold enough to say to *me*, "Hey, now, settle down!" because I was waxing nerd-ly about science and bouncing on the balls of my feet.)  But my geeky side has proven that I am one of them, but I suspect they see me as a squirrelly, eccentric auntie who is just a little too loud in public.

So, when this photographer came in my mama-bear side came roaring out.  I looked at him in the middle of my stream of consciousness chatter and said, "Oh, no, that's going to be awkward."

He looked at me.

He looked at my class (half of whom were giving him the stare of doom, the other half of whom were trying to find something to hide behind). He put his camera down.  Very slowly as if hoping not to anger us, he backed out of the room and said, "Yeah, a little too awkward."

It was like we'd defeated a dragon together.

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