Finally, A Bridge to Somewhere

Veracruz zocoloMy 9th grade students seem mildly surprised that I know how to twitter; I say mildly, because they work very hard at not reacting to anything I do, all the while, watching me like hungry hawks abandoned by their mother. So I give it to them. Relying on Starbuck’s weekly featured CDs, I throw on a song, bounce to it and invite willing parties to join. Slyly surveying the room, I find several harmony- deprived youngsters moving naturally to the relaxed rhythms of Death Cab for Cutie or to the excited beats of Sones de Mexico. These are kids who crave a smile, a mini Snickers, and a reduced homework load, but oh so guardedly. My personal stories are too wide for them and feel more discretion would serve them, until, I have done the unthinkable: outed them as an interested party.

Two weeks of ignoring them lures their little heads back to the nest, leaning into a melodic love song, thoughtful Dickenson verse and a self-deprecating anecdote. On any given day, I am engulfed with a dozen inquiries concerning my weekend plans, my lunch box and even my husband’s favorite pastime. These are young people who swear they have nothing in common with me, insist I am reaching retirement sooner than their parents, and convinced I cannot dance. My high school friend and middle school teacher, along with colleagues, performed their own rendition of Slumdog’s Tally Ho dance routine for 300 6th, 7th and 8th graders, simply hoping to look as good as their dance! They were convincing and professional. The students were floored and offered mounting cheers of slumdog tally hoencouragement bringing on a tsunami of warmth, washing away years of what once was known as a generation gap.

I flounder on facebook, clumsily connect with college-age nephews and nieces, and boast of my profile photo to my students (forbidding access) as they look at me suspiciously. Technology has bridged something once called a divide, and unifies us as we move forward. I am a player, full of savvy and knowledge—they listen with one ear, to catch a nugget and a slice of common ground. At the end of this school year, a thoughtful student confirmed my suspicions, offering this tasty morsel in a hand-written note: “I thought you were crazy, but in a good way. I like your style. See you in the hallways.”

One of us had arrived!  

Julia Gillern loves to travel in addition to shaping minds for future service to America.

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