It’s four years now since I left my high school classroom and even without the literal, 310, they never really leave you.
Yesterday night as Tuvia shared my weekly “cheat meal” at Bailey’s Barbeque my Cape Coder arrived and I couldn’t taste the vodka. Tuvia agreed and called over the waitress, who politely returned it to the bartender. A few minutes later a very tall, bearded boy-man appeared with my drink, a familiar smile,dancing blue eyes, and introduced himself to me as Matt O’Boyle and I was Ms. Kaplan once again.
He assured me there was vodka in there and I believed him. He insisted that he pick up the next round. I thanked him, knowing we would not order another round. But I was not surprised when another drink showed up with extra vodka. Recently, when I ran into Chris now managing the Cheesecake Factory we had dessert in place of the vodka.
Of course it’s not about the vodka or the cheesecake, but the shared classroom memory, one that back in the moment, you wonder about.
Matt was a challenge I shared with my art teacher buddy Sharon and Matt’s mom and working collaboratively, creatively and patiently. Matt didn’t play by the rules. He wasn’t excited by the classroom in general but in my media class, before the digital age, Matt got energized when the class project offered him a challenge he found interesting. He and his class friends borrowed a video camera and created a story that became a subversive legend. The piece fit the criteria of the assignment but was inappropriate. Oops, a challenge for me as the teacher to set the rules. Matt understood and I loved watching him so excited.
Matt graduated, moved on to college, graduated, found his passion working in radio and moonlights at Baileys to finance that passion . We didn’t talk about our classroom experience last night, but it was there in every sentence of our small talk. It was so good to see him grown up and clear about himself.
Seems like these reconnects have been happening often in the last few months, in person and on Facebook. Just to get that hug, that smile, a memory of connection is satisfying.
Kids need time to process their lives, to make sense of their learning when they get to live beyond that high school classroom and take the time to really reflect. So what can we really know about their learning process in those high stakes testing events?
Denis(with me above) will be here this afternoon for coffee. I have software to share with him now that he’s a Macbook kind of guy writing his third screenplay and getting ready to begin a second masters degree.
I’m blessed to be reaping the rewards of my life lived in room 310.