EMPTY CLASSROOM

I began my first day of teaching with an empty classroom.

The students were late (it would turn out that only one of them would come in that first day). The aircon was humming. The chairs were neatly arranged in rows and columns. The teacher’s desk, lonely at one end of the room, invited me over. Excitement was palpable. Optimism was at its brightest.

The class is always perfect on Day 1. The syllabus and lesson plans you worked hard on and rejoiced over (I’m so brilliant! This topic will change their lives! I wish my parents could sit in on this lecture!) are at their untarnished forms.

On days 2 and onward, not only is the classroom a mess. So are the schedules. So is your lesson sequence. You’re trying your best to make sense out of a structure that is crumbling. Your mighty syllabus has fallen. You’ve found the class’s working level – and you’ve been disappointed. But more often than not, your students keep surprising you with wisdom you never thought they had.

On the last day, the classroom is empty once more. Its poetry screams through the silence.

The aircon is humming. The chairs are neatly arranged. You’re still high from your students’ successful final exams. You feel like you could teach till you drop. The teacher’s desk cries out to you, “leaving so soon?”

You shut the lights. And close the door.

You tell the desk, “Till the next sem.”

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