Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Sense and Sensibility

This morning I entered the building with some students who were headed either to breakfast or to get some work done in the library before school started. The entrance I used has one flight of stairs going up and another leading down. As we climbed the steps, a student was asking me about our current writing contest when we were interrupted by a gasp and the clatter of a book bag hitting the stairs below us. We both stepped to the banister and peered over. Another student sat awkwardly on the edge of a step, tottering back with her legs outstretched in front of her and a panicked look on her face. She had obviously slipped, but how far she had fallen and whether or not she was hurt, I couldn't tell.

"Are you all right?" I called. Her eyes met mine, but she didn't answer. "Are you hurt?" I tried again and started down to her, but I was moving against traffic, so I didn't get too far.

"Esta bien?" a voice to my left inquired. The girl nodded, then climbed to her feet, and continued on her way to breakfast. I turned to the student I had been talking to on the way in. Although she speaks English like a native, her first language is Amharic. She had diagnosed our communication gap immediately and used the Spanish she is learning now to help. I was both impressed and proud of her reaction; as minor an incident as it was, it illustrates what we hope for in our students.


  1. How wonderful that she took the initiative on her own. You're right...we want that for our students! Glad you had your eyes open to catch it!

  2. Spanish flies past me regularly in our class, today used in a course sort of way that made several of the young men laugh. I know all the swear words in that language, so was in on the joke. The English speakers were, huh? as the class conversation moved on.

    You write so vividly. I'm happy to see your name on the Slicers.


  3. Tracey,
    You have captured this moment with clarity and genuine sensitivity. An impressive example of capturing the essence of a slice of life.
    Alan Wright