Category Archives: laughter

Summer School: Day 7

The students were moving from one task to another, some of them (the ones who desperately need glasses) taking positions at tables close to the board. I was gesticulating to make a point when J-Boy walked in front of me—and my flailing hand whacked the tip of his nose.

“Are you all right?” I asked.

He nodded. “Yeah,” he said. (Not that he would have admitted to being injured—it’s a guy thing.)

“Are you sure?”


“Because I don’t want blood spurting all over the place.”

J-Boy smiled, still rubbing his nose.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” I said, “this is the first time ever in my career as a teacher that I have hit a student—and J-Boy is the lucky guy who got the first hit.”

The students cheered and applauded—even J-Boy—and then we all went back to work.

Sometimes the best way to handle life’s disruptions, disappointments and deadly assaults is with levity—because if you can’t laugh, you’re dead.

First Friday in Advent: Giving

The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.
Psalm 16:6

It’s Friday, and like many teachers, I’m tired. I’ve had too many papers to grade this week, too many meetings to attend and too many breakdowns in classroom decorum.

Yet despite my weariness, I take pleasure in thinking back on some pleasant incidents, involving a handful of students who are eager to learn.

T-Boy is one of my eager learners. He perked up immediately during today’s spelling pretest when he heard me say the word thirteen.

“I’m going to be thirteen tomorrow,” he announced. Then he added, “How do you spell thirteen?”

“This is a test,” I reminded him. “That’s for you to figure out.”

“But how do you spell it?” he said, becoming more insistent.

“If you’re going to be thirteen, then you need to learn how to spell the word.”

T-Boy thought for a moment and then gave me a mischievous grin. “I’ll just stay twelve,” he said.

Exchanges like this one with T-Boy compel me to agree with the psalmist: “The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places.”

I haven’t always been a teacher. I’ve held several other jobs. But now that I’ve worked with middle school students for a number of years, I can’t imagine doing anything else. I’ve been called to teach—and I’ve answered that call. Nothing can be more pleasant than doing what one knows in one’s bones is the right thing to do—and teaching feels right for me.

Making the journey through Advent to Christmas also feels right. Despite what many retailers would have us believe, Christmas doesn’t start the moment Halloween ends. There’s a gap of nearly eight weeks from trick-or-treating to gift-giving. Making the Advent journey can change us from getters into givers.

During this Advent season, as I continue to teach my students, and laugh with them, even when I am weary, I am learning afresh that it is truly more blessed to give than to receive.