I looked up from the table I was clearing off – a whole days’ worth of middle school debris lay scattered here there and everywhere, and took in the slight figure standing before me. Adam*. Fiercely bright, soft spoken, perceptive, and a bit of an Eeyore. There is always a cloud to consider when discussing the fact that it’s a sunny and lovely day with Adam – he is aware of it, and he wants to make sure to point it out for you.
“Yes, Adam?” I said, taking a seat, and ready to listen.
“I think I was terrible…I mean, I think I was really terrible,” he said, dropping his backpack on the desk and slumping down onto a chair as well.
“What about your presentation do you think went awry?” I asked, knowing that, with Adam, I could use the word awry.
“Well, I loved my book, and I learned a lot from it, and I really wanted to talk about it…” he sighed, “but…” he trailed off.
In the quiet that was our classroom now, I thought back to Adam’s presentation. He had read his book on the Great Depression very thoughtfully, and his Google slides were well done: important information, good visuals. But…
“I mumbled my way through it, didn’t I? And no one could probably hear me, either,” he said, sighing again. “I am probably going to fail, right, Mrs. Smith? I am going to fail…” he drifted off.
I had been watching Adam, but he had been looking out of the window as he spoke, and then he turned his gaze to me.
“Presenting is really hard, Adam,” I said, “you know, when I first started teaching, I was so nervous every day that I thought I’d pass out right there in front of all my students, before dismissal even.”
“Really?” he said, looking at me with just the smallest traces of a smile.
“Yup! I was a hot mess,” I confessed, “but, you know what? It got better each day. The more I got up there and taught my lessons and learned how to present , it just became like breathing. And it will be the same for you…by the end of the year, you are going to get awesome at this.”
“You think so?” he asked, “because I was kind of a hot mess today.”
“Adam,” I said, “you won’t be a hot mess for long…I promise. Our next presentation is two weeks away – I guarantee it that you will be better.”
“Well,” Adam said, with a trace of a smile again, “that will be a relief!”
“For both of us, right?” I said, smiling back.
And, that was that. We learn and grow and get better at what we do every day. It is true for me, and it is true for Adam. I do believe I detected a hint of a swagger as Adam picked up his backpack and sauntered out of the door…a little more Pooh than Eeyore.