Tag Archives: Students

Do the Right Thing

“Kindness can transform someone’s dark moment with a blaze of light. You’ll never know how much your caring matters. Make a difference for another today.”
Amy Leigh Mercree

 

Recently I agreed to be a part of a committee called RTI which means “response to intervention.”  It is a program designed to help students who need a little extra help with their classes or behavior.  I didn’t really think much about but I need hours for my Masters internship so I thought, why not!

This past week we met for the first time to review the files of the students that had been identified.  At first there was nothing unusual, just a few kids that were habitual trouble makers and we were trying to come up with ideas to help them to be successful.  Everything was going pretty well until one of the members brought up a kid that he had just enrolled the previous week.  The assistant principal said that he was only a freshman but he did not want to be in school and was so adamant about it that he was causing a scene in the office.  When the principal spoke to the student one on one he was asking him if he was having trouble at home or in school and when he pressed he saw the student start to break down and cry.  As we talked in the committee we discovered that he had been a good student early in junior high but something happened during the 8th grade caused him to snap.  It was all I could do not to cry in the middle of the meeting.  I can’t hear stories like that without thinking about how we can somehow make a difference.  I had a new perspective on the committee.  I suddenly found myself wondering what could be so bad that would cause a student to hate school so bad that he wanted to fight?  I sat there and thought about him and wondered how many other kids there were like him?

It reminded me of something that I have thought about quite a bit over the past four or five years.  That is, that we as teachers really have no clue what our students are going through or have gone through.  Since I have been in my current teaching position and school I have had one student painfully admit that they had been sexually abused in the past,  three or four admit that they had thoughts of suicide and at least six that lost a parent or close family member while in my class.  I imagine that if that many have actually admitted it, then there are many others that are too ashamed and embarrassed to tell anyone.

It reminds me that as a teacher my job is to teach these students Chemistry or Physics.  But as a human being it is my responsibility to help them deal with life.  In my opinion there are some things that are more important than academics.  Sometimes students have real issues and if I can somehow help them with that then I consider that to be successful.   If I can make a connection with a student  maybe I can make a difference.  Numerous former students have told me that school was difficult for them and that I made it more bearable for them.  Those are the stories I cherish and long to hear.  Lately I have been thinking about my future and what I will do once I get my Masters degree.  I still don’t know exactly what the future holds but part of my decision will based on how much I will be able to help students.

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Why I’m a teacher

I’ve been on vacation so I haven’t posted anything in a while.  Since I started this blog I’ve been thinking what I should write about and what do people want to hear.  And then it occurred to me that I should follow my own advice.  I try to tell my student’s to be themselves so that’s what I intend to do, just be myself.  So my goal for this blog is to write an honest account of what I think and feel.  And today what I feel like sharing is why I continue to be a teacher.  I’m never going to get rich being a teacher and through the years the work of being a teacher has increased faster than the tangible, monetary rewards have.  So why do I and so many of my colleagues continue to do what we do?

There is only one reason why I teach.  It’s the students!  I have been teaching in some capacity for 27 years.  In that time I have had the privilege of having close to 4000 students in my classes but there are countless others that I count as my students that I never had in class.  I love them all.  I can honestly say that every one of them have had an impact on me in some way.  Now I would be lying if I told you I remembered every one of them and it is becoming harder and harder to recall names but they have taught me tremendously over the years.  They have taught me how to be a better teacher.  They have taught me how to be a better person.  More than anything else they have taught me that everyone is beautiful in their own way and that every person has something to contribute to society.  They are honest most of the time and they help me see what should be our priorities as teachers and educators.  Now as teachers we aren’t supposed to have favorites but being human we all do.  We all have those kids that stand out and make you feel like you are the best teacher on the planet.  But I can honestly say that I am glad for every student I have had.  Sure some of them made my life hell on a daily basis drove me to the point of yelling and losing my temper but they all taught me something about teaching and about myself.

So this post is for all of my students.  For those that I have never told, I love you all!  Some of you worked hard, some of you never worked at all.  Some of you made A’s and could have done better, some of you made C’s and did your very best.  Some of you were never in my class but I love you like my own.  There are those that I’ve lost touch with and some have become close friends and colleagues.  Some were only here for a short while to teach me something and some of you came to change my whole life.  Some of you hold me accountable and have actually become some of my best friends.  But for all of you, please know that you have brought great joy to my life and if I’m sometimes a nuisance it’s only because other than my family, y’all are the best part of my life.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart!