"Ok, please pass up the index cards I handed to you a minute or two ago," Ms. Francis said.
At his seat, about halfway back on the left side of the room, Ryan shuffled through the four or five papers on his desk, knocking his pencil to the ground as he searched for the green index card he had been given. It was the first day of class, and Ryan and his classmates had just completed an activity during which they were asked to raise their index cards in the air to indicate responses to certain questions.
Ryan looked under one paper, then another. No index card.
He then picked up all of the papers and shuffled them against his desk to organize them. No index card.
Ryan then pushed his chair back and scanned the ground near his desk. No index card.
Finally, Ryan spun around and looked at his friend John's desk. No index card there either.
A little embarrased, Ryan raised his hand.
"Yes, Peter?" Ms. Francis said softly from the front of the room.
"Umm..I can't find my index card."
Those sitting around Ryan laughed softly, although not in a mean way.
"Oh, that's ok Ryan. I have plenty of extras."
Most middle school (and elementary and high school, for that matter) teachers have their own "Ryans." But this time, it was different.
This time, "Ryan" was 28 years old.
And this wasn't an elementary, middle, or high school class.
This was a teacher training.
And "Ryan" was me.
I didn't so much care that I had lost the index card. (To this day, I have no idea where it went). In fact, I was sort of in awe of the situation. Although I dramatized it a bit above, it was really interesting to be the kid who lost the paper that was distributed two minutes earlier. I had never made a big deal of lost papers, but this experience gave me a little more empahty for the kids that lost them.
Teaching 7th grade, I'll keep making five hundred copies of the Periodic Table for my one hundred Ryans.