Only 30 minutes lay between my 10th graders and their weekend. And those 30 minutes were mine.
Twenty students were listening to me when my classroom door creaked open. An 11th grader peaked his head through the door, saw that I was in front of the classroom teaching—engaged in a conversation with my class—and he peaked back out. But the door didn’t close. After disappearing behind the door for a moment he reappeared and walked into my classroom!
He walked between me and my class and proceeded to the far side of the room. He set a drink on a student’s desk, and left. I simply stared. “I did some work for . . .” the drink recipient offered upon noticing my perplexity, trying to explain a logical reason for the interruption, but there wasn’t one.
“I hope you guys wouldn’t do that,” I said to my class, “because it’s rude.”
Impulse told me to track the intruder down the hallway and fume my rage, but fortunately I didn’t. Instead, my class and I continued our dialogue, and while they were talking, I furiously scribbled down the aggravations I had toward the interloper.
By the end of the day, I’d calmed down. Thought of The audacity! To come into a teacher’s classroom—especially while they’re in front of the class teaching—without permission—interrupting the entire class? Are you more important than the twenty-one people who had business being in that classroom at that time? were replaced with maybe it’s not that big of a deal. I don’t need to talk to him about it.
But the reality is that I did need to talk to him about it. Author Ellen White writes, True education does not ignore the value of scientific knowledge or literary acquirements; but above information it values power; above power, goodness; above intellectual acquirements, character. The world does not so much need men of great intellect as of noble character. It needs men in whom ability is controlled by steadfast principle” (emphasis mine).
I waited until Monday to talk to him.
“When you came into my classroom on Friday,” I began.
“Was that not good?” His face turned a bit red.
“Basically, your actions showed that you thought you were more important than all of those people in the room.”
He understands. He needed a simple reminder, as many of our students do sometimes. Let’s remember that more important than teaching equations and sentence structure and life cycles is character. When opportunities arise, let’s gently take them.