1. Der Meister who patiently and uncomplainingly puts up with books, boxes, students’ papers, and other school paraphernalia littering the living room (and kitchen), who makes dinner, washes the dishes, and puts up with his wife’s 2 a.m. bedtime.

2. The huge boost of confidence that same Meister gave me when he told me he’s proud of my work.

3. Parents who gladly and uncomplainingly change their schedule for a certain new teacher and her kids because they want her to succeed—and because few others are willing help out at 6 a.m.

4. Conference. We needed it.

5. Family. And all of their kids and the lessons they’ve taught us.

6. Friends—and their good smelling gifts, gooey chocolate peanut butter brownies, and surprise phone calls saying, “Did you make it to the temple yet? Bring your kids over and I’ll watch them for you while you go.”

7. My children who help me with school, especially by listening to my daily events, then offering sympathy, personal experiences, or suggestions. Such as when I was lamenting that some of my students were acting belligerent, but I didn’t think they knew what that meant. One of my girls wisely and matter-of-factly suggested, “Maybe ‘belligerent’ should be one of their vocabulary words.” So guess what was on their next vocabulary list? I also have to smile because sometimes my children spell better than some of my students. But when your parents are an English teacher and an editor and they both hold the same degrees, and you yourself are a child who loves to read and write and seems to crave new words as much as you do food, what do you expect?

8. The library book sale and joining the crowd of other bibliophiles who love everything about books: the weight of them in your bag, the feel of their covers, the smell of their pages, and the sight of them piled on your floor like treasures.

9. Five or six students who hear you say, quietly, (as everyone else leaves the classroom) that whoever cleans up the classroom (which is a mess) will earn 50 extra points. And then they actually show you the trash they’ve picked up. “See, Ms. E! I’m cleaning! Do I get credit?” And you get to smile as you say yes.

10. My vice principal’s formal evaluation of me in which he had great encouragement and recognition, great ideas on how to be better, and a great compliment in regards to professional dress. I was told that I dress better than other people he knows who have been teaching for 20 years. Wow. I strive to dress the part, so that was quite a compliment.

11. The thrilling and humbling experience of one of my students who, when they were told they had to rearrange their schedule to fit other classes, refused to leave my class because, “I like that class. I’m actually learning something in there.” Wow again. You hope for it and love it when you hear it.

12. The reaction to my final project for Romeo and Juliet. I had my students make a newspaper chronicling the events of the play. I was a bit nervous as this was the first real group project I’ve had them do. A teacher was in my class observing, talking to students, looking at their work . . . and praising my assignment! She exclaimed, “This is a great assignment Ms. E has for you!” I saw her later and she praised me again. My vice principal mentioned it in his evaluation meeting and said the teacher was going around telling everyone, “You should see what Equinox is doing in her class! It’s wonderful!” Wow! That was just cool! I dared disturb the universe! And when I admitted it to my VP, he praised me for doing so and encouraged me to do more. We learn from it! Especially when we join those kids who aren’t doing much and then we watch them as we throw out an idea and they run with it. (Ms. E: “So, what’s the title of your paper?” Fine Student: “We don’t know yet.” Ms. E: “Well, think of something. The Juliet Gazette, or something.” Fine Student: “YEAH! The Juliet Gazette!” Ms. E: “OK, now—” Fine Student: “Here, I’ll do this!” Other Fine Student: “And this is my job . . .!” Such a small comment. Who knew?). And then enjoy it when they make you laugh.

Speaking of:

13. Laughter: The newspaper required a comic strip. They had already made one for the balcony scene. As many of you who have seen the Olivia Hussey version of Romeo and Juliet remember, the balcony scene has Lady Juliet in her night dress with a very noticeable decolletage. One girl drew a stick figure with noticeable cleavage. As she added this to the newspaper pile, one of the boys in her group saw my comment. “‘Quite a buxom stick figure,'” he read aloud. “What is that?” The girl calmly commented it was like bosoms. He glanced at me confused, then the light dawned, “Oh! You mean like—” and a teenage boy’s reference to a woman’s chest was mentioned. (For those of you who know The Simpsons, think of Moe making words with his calculator and you’ll get it.) A few of us had to crack up. I believe I sighed and made the simple comment of, “Boys.” Honestly, the situation isn’t bad, considering I have six classes full of teenage boys and only about five of them actually vocalize such boyish thoughts.

Other events that get a laugh:

The kid who falls off of his chair daily. The fantastic student who is the first to volunteer for extra credit and who, in response to the, “You don’t need it!” from a fellow student, replies, “I only have a 95!” The funny faces another kid makes on the overhead transparencies (whether I’m working on them or not). The amazement on some of my students’ faces when they found out ich kann Deutsch. The look on another fine student’s face when he asked me, “Ms. E, do you know the dark side of the moon?” and I replied, “Yes, I do.” Which I think made me a bit cooler. And then his grin when I thanked him for restoring my faith in the rising generation. 

14. A four-day weekend! And the resemblance of a life! Hooray hooray!