The children take up my joy and give more back as I move from classroom to classroom, math to reading. A month of testing behind us, we finally get to focus on teaching and learning from the students. My favorite times involve no structure, only looking at magazines and talking with kids who speak English well but as a second language. We laugh at lizards, stare at whales, hide from hairy spiders popping out at us from colorful pages of Ranger Rick.
"What's this say?"
"Can you read all of this?"
"I need to tell you something about wolves."
My group of three 1st graders presses around me, bottoms rarely staying in their chairs. They raise their hands. They tell each other to listen. They sometimes forget and talk over each other. One little boy has his sleeves all wet after washing up in the restroom. One little girl wants to keep turning the pages before we are finished. They're eager and awkward, happy and helpful, curious and full of answers.
I don't know how they got to me. Maybe it's because I sometimes want to take them home with me. Maybe it's because we never have enough time to read all we want or learn all we want. Maybe it's because I don't always like giving them back to their teachers. Maybe it's because Batty got me to thinking, almost two years ago, when she asked if I had a baby in my belly. Batty's gone now. She transferred to another school. Maybe it's because I miss her.
Ask me again, Batty. I have a different answer.