Face time

Last week we had special guests in our classroom. A couple of our special needs students came in to work with my college dual-enrollment students. It was a great experience for all of us.

While I was working one on one with my seniors, one of the special needs students tried her best to get my attention. “Ma ma. Ma ma,” she said.

Over and over she called out, but I didn’t realize she wanted me. I was engrossed with roll taking, essay checking, grammar checking, blah blah blah.

The visiting teacher explained the situation, so I stopped what I was doing and went to her desk to say hello. I knelt at her side, and before I knew it, she had reached out and grabbed my face, scratching my nose.

Ouch! I was taken by surprise, but I wasn’t upset. She reached for my face because that is how she communicates affection. All she wanted was a little face time.

Wow. What a lesson.

Today in public schools, we teachers are expected to spend a lot of time at our computers filling out surveys, sending lesson plans, taking online attendance, creating documents, sharing information on the drive. All of this technology is nice, but we only have so many hours in a day. I would rather unplug the computer and spend what little time I have in the classroom teaching my students with only pencil and paper rather than give up face time.

Sadly, I believe I have spent more time this year staring at a computer screen than quietly observing my students as they work. I’m not sure if I would recognize all of them if I saw them out in public, out of the classroom environment. That’s sad.

Everybody needs face time. We need human contact, human interaction. A virtual companion can provide many things, but it can’t hug you when you need a hug. It can’t offer a shoulder, when you need one to lean on. It can‘t smile, and it can’t wipe away tears.

So, thank you, dear student, for my surprise wake-up call. It was a little painful, and I have a little mark on my nose where you got me

I don’t wear a whole lot of make-up. I kind of like the natural look, but I’m like most women. If I get a blemish, I try to cover it up with a little foundation, anything to make it less noticeable.

But this scratch on my nose, I don’t hide it at all. I wear it with pride because this student was able to communicate to me, more so than any other, that “Hey, I need some face time. Look at me. I’m important, and I think you’re important too. Spend time with me—not your computer.”

I’m not sure what today’s post has to do with writing. I guess it’s just about being human. Writing and reading are gifts we give to others and to ourselves.

Everyone we meet has a story. I guess by tuning in and focusing on what he or she has to say, we actually take time to read it.

That matters.