There are two prevailing views of the public school teacher. The first view is of the overpaid and under worked leech, “who gets three weeks off at Christmas, and three months off in the summer.” The second view is almost godlike in its awe, “How do you stand being around all those sassy kids all day long? I don’t know how you do it . . .“
Both views are incorrect.
Teenagers are monosyllabic when with their parents. You will hear complete sentences only when they need money; a ride; or to borrow your car. Otherwise, you could count the syllables of a day’s conversation on seven fingers. Most of these are simple grunts; broken occasionally by the word “Nothing,” or “Whatever.” About ninety percent of the parents who come to parent-teacher conferences come to find out if their kids still know how to converse.
A few weeks back, in a comment about the article, “The New, Twisted Health Benefits of Tea; I vowed to invite students to my classroom for tea on Tuesdays at lunch. To get people to enjoy freshly-brewed high quality tea, absent the sugar, you must introduce them to it. Like most habits of health, starting young is the best assurance that the habit will “take.”
The kind folks at T Ching donated a teapot suitable for six guests; several selections of quality tea; accessories for holding the strainer and scooping the dry tea leaves, as well as morale support. Another friend donated six gender-neutral teacups. I already had the tea kettle, hot plate and several gallons of bottled spring water. Good to go!
This week was the first Tuesday Tea. I invited six sophomore boys who are also members of my speech team. Since we will spend a lot of time in school vans and at tournaments in the next nine months, I saw the Tea Time as an opportunity to build community as I share my passion for tea. I chose Nepalese Oolong, a personal favorite, and the tea I am surest of steeping and serving at the correct temperature. The invitations were delivered just before lunch, and each boy was on time. The lights were turned out, the door locked, and I told them what I was doing and why as I prepared tea for them.
When I poured the tea, and invited them to take a cup, each lad took his tea in both hands, and inhaled deeply. Tentatively, they sipped.
“This is pretty good, actually,” Philip spoke up first.
“I thought it was going to be bitter,” Evan put in, “Hey, it feels really warm in the gut!”
“My Grandma drinks tea – ” Ethan began.
“Yeah, mine does too, but the stuff she drinks will take the enamel off your teeth!”
“So, are her teeth gone by now?”
“Dentures. She has dentures.”
“Probably why. This is good. What kind of tea is this?”
The bell rang. The boys thanked me. “That was surprisingly good,” Philip said, “Thank you very much.”
“Yeah, thanks,” and, “Bye, that was nice,” and, “Are you going to invite the whole team for tea?”
A success, no?