It started in elementary school, continue in junior high, and cemented itself as a tradition in high school.  I knew it was coming, but didn’t know where or with who. I remember an elf, a leprechaun, Santa Clause, a gorilla, a pioneer, and Tinkerbell. This year it was Mr. and Mrs. Claus with an elf. The annual birthday costume surprise.

Two of my classes had the opportunity to see behind the “teacher curtain” this past week.  It wasn’t by choice, but I welcomed the fun and visits from my wife, kids, brother, sister, and mother.

It was an authentic moment. I was surprised.

My mom, along with my two older siblings came to the school to surprise me on my birthday. They were dressed in Christmas costumes (see above). My brother told the story of me being the mascot in high school, and each of them shared their thoughts on F-451. They passed out candy and left shortly after. The entire visit lasted about ten minutes, but will live as a memory for me and my students for the rest of our lives.

Ten or twenty years from now a student will approach me in the mall, or at a Jazz game and tell me about the time when my family came to the school and surprised me for my birthday. They will not tell me about how much they appreciate the fact that I taught them MLA and APA format.  I am not saying that we throw academics out the window, but suggest that we open the curtains every once in a while and share ourselves with our students.

I feel as teachers that we are so focused on all of the other things (which I won’t list here) that we forget to let the kids know and see that we are real people. It is like we are actors on a stage and our “real” life is what happens backstage or behind the curtains. Fourteen and fifteen-year-olds value this authenticity. They value the glimpse behind the curtain. It helps build trust in their teachers. I know this because they tell me this.