" ...an unexpected gift at an unexpected time." ~Sean Connery, Finding Forrester
A favorite movie of mine is Finding Forrester. Sean Connery plays a curmudgeon–like reclusive author who still lives off the royalties of his book. He doesn’t live well, but he lives. This is advice he gives to young Jamaal, a neighborhood teen who looks to Connery as a mentor. Still reclusive, Connery begins to entertain the idea of re-entering the world while he “teaches” Jamaal how to improve his writing. Enough said. The key is the quote above. It has become a favorite saying of mine at home…just ask my husband!
But yesterday it happened to me for real. Returning to my room just after lunch I met up with our district’s technology director. It’s always great to see Joel as he takes an active interest intechnology-based curriculum. At a recent Twitter chat (#gfedchat—Monday nights @ 8:30—check it out), I invited Joel to our building, telling him he had an open invitation. I thought he was taking me up on it.
Instead he stopped me and gave me news that made me speechless. Me, speechless! He had brought over six used Macbooks for me to us in my classroom. For me to use in my classroom! For my students to use!!! Can you tell I was overjoyed? Ecstatic? Jubiliant? Effervescent? Really, really, really happy? Thrilled, just, thrilled.
Later as I was processing this unexpected gift (on my birthday, even) I thought about the greater gift I had received that day. I had administrative support in my quest to infuse technology more into my curriculum. Not veral support, action support.
Last night as I thought of it, tears sprang up when I thought of what a kind, thoughtful gesture Joel extended to me. He didn’t have to give me those Macs. Or if he did, he didn’t have to bring them over himself. But that’s the kind of guy he is. The more I get to know Joel, the greater my respect builds for him. He is a class act. Not just because he gave me access to something I’ve been pining for for the last 10 years, but for a few reasons. One , he actually reads my blog—currently one of three, I think, who do. Two he didn’t get mad about my mini-rant about what was missing in my classroom. Three he acted on it. He valued me as an employee enough to wrestle up some Macbooks.
So I received more than Macbooks yesterday. I gained insight into the leadership qualities of a man I haven’t always treated the best. A few years back, I took out my frustration about a situation on him. What I said may have been correct, but how I handled it wasn’t. That is a regret I still carry. So, Joel, if you’re reading, forgive me. This is a guy who has endured being an assistant principal in one middle school and one high school for more years than I remember.
As a district administrator, it’s easy to dismiss the masses and focus on your own agenda. What I’ve seen with @joelschliecher is just the opposite. He says he’s supporting you and you see that support. He validates me as a teacher, not just through his gift but through the effort it took to give me that gift. This is probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever experienced as a teacher. And for that, and for the example of class you set, I thank you, Mr. Schleicher.
I had to share the good news with someone, so my blog is it. Yesterday turned out to be one of the best birthdays ever. Not because of the unexpected computers. No, much more for the unexpected insight I gained and realization I came to about teaching. We really are in this together. We really are...