Last Thursday morning, as I walked my class in to the school, I tripped and fell on the sidewalk. It was one of those slow-motion knee, to hip, to elbow falls that took forever to finish. I found myself lying on my side, on the walkway, the blue sky above and morning noises all around me. As I lay there, I couldn't help thinking "Oh my God! How many people just saw that?" I wanted to disappear!
As I shook my head in disbelief (I have just FALLEN!) and tried to hoist myself back up, my students all of a sudden surrounded me, like a wall. It was like they were protecting me from the others - the other kids, the parents, the teachers! One of the boys stood in front of me, set his feet firmly apart, and extended his hands to me, saying, "OK miss, venga. Párese... yo la ayudo." (OK miss, come on now. Stand up... I'll help you.) He actually stood firmly enough that I was able to lift myself up with his help.
The rest of the children were soooo quiet.The girls brushed me off, and the boys scattered to collect my things which had landed all over the place. My books and papers had flown out of my book bag, my yogurt had splattered all over the walkway. No one said a word!
We walked in like we always do, but the boy that had helped me up, kept his hand on my elbow as we took the steps to the 2nd floor and in to our classroom. The kids were all still so quiet. All morning, through math, then word work and writing, they were really quiet. Every now and then they'd ask again if I was OK.
Later on, as we started reading, they were still somber. I had to snap them out of it! I said "Hey guys! Remember when I fell this morning? Wasn't that hi-LA-rious? Ha ha ha ha haha ha haha!!!!!!!" I laughed at the visual I conjured up, of my shocked self laying on the sidewalk. And then, like dominoes, a chuckle spread though the room, turning into full-out belly laughs.
I thought all day about how my kids reacted to the incident, how they remained respectful, and how they showed me their concern. They seemed worried all morning, until I got them to laugh about it! I'll never forget how protected and loved I felt; my students stood by me and looked after me.
It's gratifying to know that in the two months we've been together, my students and I have developed a relationship that allows us to care for each other and laugh together. And I salute their parents for the fine job they've done so far in raising kind children.