A high-school faculty office…
“You are going to ask your students to applaud you?” Ms. Sheppe asked.
“I am going to suggest it to them,” Mr. Collins said.
“Does that seem appropriate?”
“Why wouldn’t it?”
“Because we’re high-school teachers,” Ms. Sheppe said, “not performers.”
“Don’t you think part of teaching is performing? Every day we have a text to work from the same way actors do, and we orchestrate everything that happens in the classroom just like musical conductors in a concert hall, and a class that goes well is as choreographed as a professional ballet.”
Ms. Sheppe looked at the clock on her phone. She had a class in ten minutes. She didn’t expect to be applauded, and she was surprised that Mr. Collins did. “Do you want them to applaud at the beginning of class or the end?”
“I would prefer both, but I’ll leave that up to them.”
“Doesn’t that seem a little . . . egotistical?”
“Certainly, but isn’t that part of teaching? We stand in front of a room full of teenagers for 55 minutes, regaling them with our perceptions about Shakespeare and Austen; and we tell them how to write and how to speak, and if that isn’t egotistical–”
“You regale them?”
“Hopefully, and so do you. I have heard very good things about your classroom.”
Ms. Sheppe began to fill her bag with the essays she had been grading. “What about other professions?” she asked. “Are you going to applaud plumbers when they’re fixing your sink and will you clap for the guys at the car wash when your car is clean?”
“Maybe. If they give a good performance,” Mr. Collins said; then, as Ms. Sheppe began to walk to the door, Mr. Collins stood and applauded her. “That’s for the classes you’ve already taught today,” he said.