Falling Into First Grade

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jan 25 2013

Hugging the Principal

So I’m scared of my principal.

Ok, maybe scared isn’t the right word. But I am intimidated by her. She has a presence– standing  with perfect posture much taller than myself, with coordinating jewelry, nails and heels, make-up applied, every hair in place. I have never heard her yell, but she could do more with a look than most could do with a microphone. She would make a fantastic poker player; I have no idea what she is possibly thinking when she observes my class until I get a follow up email.

At the end of the day, and hey let’s face it, sometimes in the morning, I look like somebody who sits on a carpet with six year olds. There are markers falling out of my pocket, my teacher ID lanyard has Dr. Seuss characters on it, there is writing on my hand, somebody has spilled some breakfast or lunch item on me, and my hairstyle is right out of Stephanie’s Ponytail. And one look at me and you know exactly what I am thinking.

So yesterday morning, as I am picking up my class and the breakfast cooler and walking down the hallway, I see our principal standing at the corner where we turn to go into our classroom. I do my best Jedi mindtrick, willing my students to stay quiet. And they did. Except a curious thing happened. The principal was standing slightly in our usual path, and so I said ‘Good Morning’ and walked around her.  As my first student walked past my principal, she stopped, gave my principal a giant hug, and just kept walking. The next student followed suit. And the next. And the next. Until all 18 students, including the one who just showed up the day before and had no idea who he was hugging, had hugged my principal.

Of course, my principal is six feet tall, and so these hugs were basically my students grabbing her leg. My principal just looked at me, a bit confused, knowing I’m not a particularly warm and fuzzy teacher and that I certainly didn’t tell the students, “Go give Ms. a hug.” I just said, “I don’t even know” and continued walking my class down the hallway.

But another curious thing happened. After about the fifth student hugged her, she started to smile. And after the eighth student, she started to hug them back. 

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