She Ignored It
At first, she dismissed the student's initial meow, she assumed they were just being obnoxious. Then, when the second meow occurred, she willfully ignored it, hoping it would die down.
But when they did it for the third time, she knew something was up. She quickly got up and made her way to the back of the classroom, placing her register sheet down. She couldn't believe what she had just come across.
Dani The Teacher
Dani Rauch taught Spanish in California. She found her passion for teaching in the last two years and aided children from all over the state with their Spanish studies.
Dani, a California native, adored the state's melting pot of ethnicities and viewpoints. None of it, however, could have equipped her for the events of that day.
Dani recently took the plunge and decided that she was ready to obtain her master's in education. However, this meant that she did not have that much time to teach children, so she decided to become a substitute teacher to help make ends meet.
She was lucky enough to find a position for a Spanish teacher in her town. She was ecstatic about her new position and woke up feeling ready for the day's challenges. She had no idea how much the day would impact her career as a teacher.
Willingness To Learn
Dani arrived just as the students were settling in. She scanned her new classroom.
She couldn't help but smile. She adored children and their willingness to learn. She grabbed her register sheet and started her roll call. When she called out the first child's name something happened.
Dani looked up from her paper as the class guffawed at the noise. She grinned as she read the following name, disregarding the meow.
Another meow shattered the silence, followed by another one. She had enough. Dani placed the attendance sheet on the table and took a look around. “Excuse me? Who’s doing that?” She wasn't expecting the response she got.
Identifies As A Cat
“Meow,” they responded. Dani was starting to get incredibly frustrated. She exhaled slowly and firmly, aware of how amusing high school could be at times.
However, a girl in the front row clumsily raised her hand. Dani told her to proceed and she said, “You have to meow back at him. He identifies as a cat.” Dani could feel her jaw tighten.
“I have to do what?” Dani inquired, her grin unflappable. "Meow back at him," the girl said. "Meow," he went again.
Dani was able to locate the cause of the problem this time. She made her way to the rear of the room, where a youngster sat with his head bowed. “Meow?” he inquired. Nobody could have anticipated what Dani did next.
“Is there a litter box somewhere in here?” Dani inquired, and the class erupted in laughter. With a sneer, the youngster leapt to his feet. He snarled as he swept his sight up and down Dani.
He made one more meowing sound before rushing out of her class. Dani let out a giggle, assuming it was all in good fun. However, things did not end there.
Dani made a barking sound when the boy approached the door. The class erupted in laughter. Dani joined in the laughter, hoping it would end soon.
She finished going through her attendance list and began her lesson. After a few minutes, the boy returned to class and Dani gave him a smile. Despite his lips curling back at her, she knew something was off.
The Day Went Well
The class went swimmingly and Dani was ecstatic. She grabbed all of her stuff and made her way to the office. Dani could not help but smile when she thought of her unique interaction with the student.
However, she was quickly pulled back to reality when the secretary called out for her. "Miss Rauch, the principal would like to see you in the office. Thank you."
The Teaching And Learning Process
Dani loved every level of the teaching and learning process. Whether she was teaching a regular class or spending time engaging in an AP class, she always felt fulfilled and at home.
But as she walked to the advanced placement class, she couldn't help but think about the meowing kid from the previous lesson. Although she'd disregarded the matter as pure mischief earlier, she couldn't help but think there was more to it than that.
You Get What You Deserve
But Dani chose not to focus on the matter. The student had gone out of his way to try and embarrass her, getting himself embarrassed instead.
The role of a teacher was an amalgamation of different aspects. Dani was not only a guide and someone to impart knowledge but also a disciplinarian when necessary. But did that exempt her from how she chose to handle the matter?
Guilt And Remorse
Dani walked past the Spanish class she'd taught earlier, choosing not to look through the window at the students within it.
Although she didn't want to acknowledge it, she knew she'd not done right as a teacher. Yes, she was a disciplinarian, but she was also supposed to be a friend, guardian, and parent. She had to fix this issue before it was too late.
Kids in their teenage years are usually very impressionable. They take almost everything to heart, be it good or bad.
Dani knew this and wondered how her treatment of the boy would affect the rest of his day. As she continued walking, her mind began unraveling the consequences of her actions. What was happening to the boy now that she'd ridiculed him in front of his peers?
Heaven Or Hell
High school is usually one of the most challenging times in a kid's life. As a teacher, one is meant to not only teach but help make this period smoother and at least bearable for these children.
The four years of high school can amount to some of the best or worst memories in a person's life. Dani didn't want the kid from class to look back at this day as a traumatic moment in his life. But what could she do now that the damage was already done?
Dani walked to her advanced placement class in utter silence. What had begun as simple fun had devolved into overthinking on her part.
She started thinking about the boy in detail, wondering why he chose to identify the way he did at school. Little did she know that the school administration was already privy to her actions.
She Wants To Fix It
As Dani walked to her AP class, teaching materials in hand and many thoughts drilling her mind, she hoped the other students wouldn't ridicule the boy.
She hoped to go back after her AP class to have a chat with him and the rest of his classroom. But she wouldn't get a chance to do that today.
Dani reached her AP class, pushed the door open, and stepped in. But she wasn't even in for a second when her sight landed on a familiar face. The boy!
Her lips parted, and her foot dared to take a step back. But Dani was a teacher, a figure of authority. She would take everything in stride. She did the unexpected.
Stay In Control
Dani's lips curled, and the surprised look on her face melted into a warm smile that coaxed a smile from the dozen kids that sat before her, the boy included.
He gave her a slight wave as she walked in and reached for her roll call sheet. Would they have a repeat of what happened in the first class?
Dani began reading the names on her list, but the boy didn't interrupt her with his meowing this time. Dani continued reading the names, with each student introducing themselves as she went down the list.
She was pleasantly surprised that the boy was in advanced placement and in Spanish class, no less. But she didn't know what would happen if he meowed again.
He Does It Again
Dani read the boy's name, and he responded with a rising intonation meow, indicating it was a question. His response made Dani's lips curve without her knowledge, and unlike what she had done in the last class, she meowed back.
The boy cocked his head to the side, and the class laughed. Dani joined in, seeing another side of this situation now that she was choosing to approach it from a different angle. But she would be too late.
A Great Experience!
The advanced placement class went spectacularly, way better than Dani thought it would. She'd expected it to be tame and quiet, given it handles the more complex linguistic side of the Spanish language.
But the boy's presence and interaction with Dani brought a fiery energy that she had never experienced in her years of teaching.
Can We Talk?
As the class ended, Dani asked the boy to remain behind. She wanted to know why he was identifying as a cat.
Although she initially found the choice odd, she was intrigued by it. From her time in grad school, she'd learned that each student was different. Accepting and celebrating this diversity was the key to fully imparting knowledge.
Live A Little
The boy's answer was simple. He thought it was fun, a side of him that was unafraid and ready to take risks. "If we don't take risks in life, then are we truly living?" he asked Dani in flawless Spanish.
Dani nodded in understanding. Nothing good ever came without taking risks. A simple yet compelling lesson taught by a student to a teacher. If only she knew what the boy had already done.
A Good Discussion
Dani walked to the office after her brief discussion with the boy. On her way, she grinned. She'd enjoyed her interaction with the student and found his perspective on life unique. Wasn't this what teaching and learning were?
But her thoughts were interrupted by the school secretary. "Miss Rauch," the secretary called. "The principal would like to see you in his office. Thank you."
The Principal Calls
Dani nodded at the lady and quickly changed her trajectory. She'd meant to take her teaching materials to the office before seeing the principal, so this worked fine for her.
She knocked on the door, expecting a warm greeting. She received none. "Sit," the principal almost commanded. Dani couldn't believe what the principal said next.
"We no longer need your services," the principal said. "If you can't identify with all the children in the classroom, then we can't continue working together."
Dani used everything in her to keep her lips from curving. She realized the principal was serious about the matter. She would match the principal's energy with her answer.
"I didn't know cats were considered people," Dani said. "I thought they were pets." Was that a twitch on the principal's jaw?
"I am sorry," Dani said. "I understand what these kids go through every day. It is not easy for them." As part of Dani's grad school education, she learned ways to make education more comfortable for students. Could she apply anything she'd learned here?
She Speaks Her Mind
"I appreciate that the student identifies as a cat," Dani said. "It makes him unique. Maybe we could find ways to make him more comfortable in class."
When the principal took an interest, she continued, "We could focus on his likes, maybe encourage sincere communication. There is a lot that these kids have bottled up. We can help them." The principal leaned forward. What he said shocked Dani.
A New Development
"You seem to know a lot about this," the principal said, and Dani nodded. "If you are up for it," he continued, "you can incorporate what you're talking about into our teaching programs."
Dani gave another nod. She'd wanted a chance to apply what she was learning in a real-life educational setting. "When can I start?" she asked the principal. Disclaimer: To protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events, places, or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.