That. Right there. That little furrow on your brow. The way you scrunch up your eyes and let your mouth fall open because you are thinking so hard– trying to make sense of something you’ve just read, or I’ve just said. That flicker on your face that mirrors the firing of your synapses as a new insight gropes its way through the tangled web of memory to find a familiar toe-hold. To take root. To make your mind its home.
And that, too. That particular blend of delight and anxiety in your eyes as you wave your hand frantically in the air, desperate for me to call on you because this time you know you’ve got it, but you still need me to hear you say it so I can reassure you that you were right to be so sure.
The energetic buzz that fills the room as you and your classmates dive head-first into the group task. Every pause. Every scratchy notebook scribble and rattle of laptop keys. Every burst of laughter.
Even every burst of anger. No, that’s not quite right. I should say especially every burst of anger. I teach for that moment because I know that anger means you are poised to learn something important. I have to stand back and wait while your learning rips off the secure Band-Aid of a long-held assumption, and uncovers a new insight that is raw and fragile and scary.
That point in your assignment where you write that one, perfect sentence. The one that tells me that you have passed the point of telling me what you think I want to hear, and all you care about now is making it your own.
That question you ask. The one that I can’t answer. The one that sends the whole class tumbling and racing and chasing after a new truth. The one that causes me to set aside my carefully crafted lesson plan because now we are really learning. All of us.
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