Wednesday, March 01, 2006

To Students with Love

I was shocked today after my final class finished. Lunch was next period, but the bell hadn't rung yet. So, I wondered why other students from my other classes were entering my classroom before the bell. Granted, I'm sure they were hungry, but it isn't usually allowed for students to have left their own classrooms, let alone enter another teacher's, before the bell rings. I assumed it must be because exams are coming, and it's the last few days of the term. Perhaps they were getting more bold, more defiant toward the end. It wouldn't be the first time. Well, I ignored the slight disruption as I began to hurry to grab my papers, my brief case, the cassette CD player, which I had used to play the music from the movie To Sir With Love by Lulu as background music for our last class, ( along with other pieces with a closing theme).

I was feeling a little down that it was all ending. But, I told myself, 'why get sad?' No need for emotional moments here. I had things to do. I had to catch my train and get on with my day. Errands to run, etc. Don't dwell on the silly stuff. Class is over. So what. There'll be more.

But as the other students filed into the classroom, and more and more came in, and making more than the usual amount of noise doing so, I noticed something even more peculiar: they were all facing me. The entire room, overflowing with bright young souls, was facing me as I stood up at the podium at the head of the class. I just began to lean over to turn down the volume to the theme from Harry Potter when I looked up from what I was doing. I did so because the room had suddenly become church quiet. A silent room yet stuffed with smiling faces, all looking at me.

What is this?, I thought. Do I have chalk on my face?

Then I saw her.

A student entered from the back and came through the mass of navy and white uniforms, the sea of black hair and beaming white complexions, of pony tails, and braces, and she walked foward to me. This girl, one of my more robust and rebellious students walked slowly to the podium, and in her hands and in the hands of her friends were flowers. Beautiful bouquets of red tulips. They reached out and held this present to me, as they did so, they added cards they had written entirely in English. Piling them on top of one another's as my arms gave way to the suddenly flowering mass of objects.

I couldn't believe my eyes. Was this for real? As I fumbled for words, the room erupted in applause shouting, "arigato gozaimashita, Robaato sensei!! We will miss you!! We love you!! Thank you!!"

At that moment I felt exactly as I had felt watching Sidney Poitier in that great film as he came face to face with his own student's gratitude and affection in those wonderful final moments. Only now, for me, I couldn't hide in the darkness watching an actor in a scene. I couldn't resist the swell of emotion, consoling myself that it was a clever bit of writing, coupled with the skills of storytelling. For this time, this moment, I was that teacher, and, unlike the movie set, this was a real-life classroom. And those were real life students doing this. And the tears I felt well up were mine, entirely and unequivocably.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very cool.

4:12 AM  
Anonymous Alec Barker said...


12:18 PM  
Anonymous Frank said...

Robert, that's GREAT and so reminiscent of "Goodbye Mr Chips" not "To Sir with Love" (which was a rip off of "Blackboard Jungle"). Your students weren't the dis-enfranchised inner city youths of To Sir or Blackboard but rather the entitled ones of Mr Chips. You're a great biker. You're a great writer and a Great Teacher. Cheers- Frank

12:14 PM  
Blogger supercublogger said...

Hey Frank, thanks for the kind words and support. We really appreciate it.

Yes, I know Blackboard Jungle was the precursor, but I've always had a soft spot for TSWL ever since I watched it when I was a kid.

And yes, I do think it's a good deal of "Goodbye Mr. Chips" in there as well.

Coincidentally, the same week I experienced my own Mr. Chips goodbye, I was watching an old tape of Twilight Zone episodes and you may recall "Changing of the Guard" w/ Donald Pleasance. That's what came on. Incredible.

12:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Robert, Good point about the Twilight Zone reference. Yes, ghosts of students past, justification for our efforts in life. That Serling show covers so much, and Seinfeld covers the rest. I like your attitude and your comments and your site. You are a special c70 rider. - Frank, c70 group

1:28 PM  
Blogger supercublogger said...

Hey! That's funny!
I like that Seinfeld mopping-up imagery!

And you're talking to a Seinfeld fan!

Oh, what's this about 70ccs? Ha! Mine is the one and only (except the other 20 million) 50cc Super Cub! hehee.
The 70 didn't do well in Japan.

Let's see, if I could list the great shows of my (not forgotten) past, which to a program, inspired and enriched me, i'd have to say, in no order of importance whatsoever...

Twilight Zone
Barney Miller
Doctor Who
Bugs Bunny and other Warner Bros Looney Tunes
Johnny Quest
Speed Racer
Sherlock Holmes (Jeremy Brett)
Hercule Poirot (older ones)
Outer Limits
Mary Tyler Moore
Dick Van Dyke
Get Smart
Man from U.N.C.L.E.
Star Trek (original series)
Hawaii Five-O
The Fugitive
The Invaders
White Shadow
Wonder Years (a biggie!)
Brady Bunch (yes, I admit it!)
Welcome Back Kotter
Gilligan' Island
Starsky and Hutch
The Rookies
Night Stalker
Police Story
The Magician
Incredible Hulk
My Favorite Martian
Courtship of Eddie's Father
(you can see my train of thought!)
Family Affair
Hardcastle and McCormick
Battlestar Gallactica
Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
National Geographic Specials (before they went to video shooting)
Wide World of Sports (Jim Mckay and Howard Cosell years)
Schoolhouse Rock and all those other great educational shorts
Johnny Carson
Bob Hope Specials
Andy Williams Specials
Dean Martin Show and Specials
Sonny and Cher Show
Hudson Brothers Show
Carol Burnett Show
Flip Wilson Show
Bill Cosby Show (original one, which premiered Fat Albert)
Laugh In
The Prisoner
Space 1999
-and so many great Masterpiece Theater mini-series, such as:
All Creatures Great and Small
Brideshead Revisited
Danger UXB
Piece of Cake
The Citadel
Flame Trees of Thika
Jewel in the Crown

and so many more programs. Gosh, it's a wonder i got outside and climbed trees, skinned my knees, and rode my bicycle with my friends. Where'd i find the time?!
Ha! to be kid!

And no gore or sleaze in any of that viewing. Man did I have a great childhood!

All the best,

3:41 PM  

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