Brave or foolish?
December 13, 2010
I wouldn’t have the courage to teach in a relatively isolated one-room school these days. I often wonder how I had the courage to do it when I was just 19-years-old; the age at which I started teaching.
My first school didn’t even have a phone in it. If we had any sort of emergency, someone would have to run to the nearest neighbor, about half a mile away. Luckily for me, my first year went off without anyone having to make that run.
Although I always locked my school house when I left at the end of the day, I wonder, thinking back, why I wasn’t afraid to enter it in the morning or stay alone in it after all the students left as I checked papers and prepared for the next day. Maybe the world didn’t seem as scary back then as it does to me today.
An experience I had one morning in my second year of teaching should have given me reasons to be wary of being in the building alone.
I came into the building that morning, and, without even going to my desk, I hung my coat in the closet and began my usual routine of going from desk to desk, reading the day’s lesson out of my students’ text books. I guess I didn’t have a lot of teachers’ manuals in those days.
When I finished, I made my way to my desk. As I rounded the corner of it, one of my fifth grade students popped out from under the desk, yelling, “Boo!” He caught me completely by surprise. He had crawled in through a basement window to scare me.
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Apparently it didn’t occur to me that anyone else – even someone dangerous – could have done the same thing. I continued to spend before and after school hours alone in the building. Was I just braver then, or more foolish?