Friday, March 4, 2016


Today, I was answering a lot of questions, and since the students were working at their desks, it required me to maneuver around the cabin like a flight attendant. When I made it to the last raised hand at the back of the class, I started laughing. The student thought I was laughing at his work, but no--not even close.

Each time I have to slide through the tiny aisles in-between the desks, I think of the same story--a story from a previous student who'd shared with the class, an incident when she was in elementary school. One afternoon, she'd laid her head on the desk and had fallen asleep. Her teacher, a large woman, was moving among the tightly arranged desks trying to help each student. She scooted past the front and side of Megan's (former student) desk, and while squeezing in between, her bottom had squished against Megan's face. Megan awoke with a "Oooooooh yuck," violation, and a funny story that would keep me laughing four years later and every time I squeezed in between desks.

Though I'm pretty positive I slide in-between desks without touching students, I'm still aware of all the other inherent dangers. I worry about smells, space violations, and the atrocity of being out of place. I belong at the front of the classroom and at my desk only. Certainly I can never ever be at the grocery store or at public places of gathering. Teachers must stay in the teacher nest--day and night (because we like to compartmentalize and shelve people in our brains that distinguishes our association with that person. Recently, I was thrown by my dentist at the grocery store! She was wearing a fashionable coat, not her standard lab coat, and she was shopping for exotic vegetables).

Not too many years ago, I learned about the important concept of: Proprioception--The ability to sense stimuli arising within the body regarding position, motion, and equilibrium. Even if a person is blindfolded, he or she knows through proprioception if an arm is above the head or hanging by the side of the body.

Proprioception is knowing ourselves in space and time. Sometimes the awareness of self is not enough--for instance last week, as we waited for the tram to the Canyons resort parking lot. It was an "off with your head," experience as skiers were unaware of the extension of themselves--their skis...and then there was the time Tony carried a fishing pole onto a plane and turned and twisted as if that darn thing wasn't in his arms. People were dodging like it was a dodge ball tournament.

I imagine as long as I teach, I will be squeezing among the tightly packed desks of my students. As long as I'm aware of the danger, aware of my proprioception, I will avoid being the but end of a student's story.