Three years ago, I was asked to move from 8th grade language arts down to 6th grader social studies. I’m not sure if it’s was a demotion or “where do we put him now” move, but it was something that made me sad because, while I wasn’t the best of language arts teachers, pushed kids to do things they’d not done before.
That begin said, I started to clean out my Google Drive recently, a 2,382 hour project that is now 1 hour done. It’s a gigantic mess, and I know this because, lets me honest, much much of my life is a mess right now. But I digress.
As I’m looking through files, I come across one titled “Monday Writing” from a student who graduated last year. In my LA class, they’d come in and spend the first 10 minutes writing about whatever they wanted. All I wanted them to do was write. I’d look through them from time to time to make sure they were writing, but it wasn’t assessed, it was just a spot to write. Some wrote about weekends. Others created these intricate stories with each Monday being another chapter. A few wrote about how they hated this (and it hurt my heart), but mostly it was a blog, but never posted.
The file I found belonged to a creative soul, a really good digital artist, but also a good writer as well. Her first writings, not so good. As the school year went on, it was like a switch was flipped on because the writings became more personal, more emotional, and you could see that it was becoming a passion of her.
She wrote about her weekends, her friends, her thoughts and fears about the future. And it became really good writing. The vocabulary, the structure, just the basic ideas, you could see them transition from middle schooler to young adult in that file of writing.
As a social studies teacher, teaching with shortened class time, it’s not something I could duplicate again. As a social studies teacher, my job, my life is social studies, not writing. It was a good switch, but some days, it makes me a little bit sad when I find artifacts like this one.
Yet, when I read her writing, it gives me hope that I was doing a little better job than I gave myself credit.
There was a post from my writer that I’ll leave you with about friends:
Good friends are like stars. You don’t always see them, but you know they are always there, means a lot to me. It means that even if you don’t see them helping you, or see that they’re always there for you. They’re still there, and they’ll always stay loyal to you and help you when you need them.
This filled me up and helped me realize that our impact sometimes isn’t always felt in the moment, but years down the road, when on old teacher who feels like education has past him by, isn’t quite as irrelevant as he thinks he is.
And that’s a good feeling right now.
September 15, 2021 at 3:41 am
I like to think of forced changed as the universe resetting he path for a reason. Truthfully, most of us wouldn’t change if given the choice. That being said, maybe there is space in socials studies for writing, reflecting, for one. You’re not a mess, you’ve just accumulated over your career. I have four boxes of paper in my office, I need to tackle. 🌈
September 16, 2021 at 10:06 am
I’m “accumluated”. I like that! 🙂
And while you are correct in that I probably wouldn’t have moved, it’s not a been a bad thing.
Thanks for reminding me of this fact! 🙂
September 16, 2021 at 6:28 am
I’m glad you came across your former student’s writing. It reinforces the great teacher you are…and though you are now teaching social studies, it’s a perfect way to emphasize the importance of writing in journals because much of history is learned through journals kept by predecessors. They could perhaps write once a week about ‘an event’ that occured in the news or personally…recording the past. 🙂
September 16, 2021 at 10:05 am
We’ve actually started doing that during our “What I Need” time and we do write during out current events time as well. I miss that LA time because it was just more personal, but at the same time, this isn’t bad going forward. It’s a different flavor of ice cream, not a favorite, but still ice cream! 🙂
September 28, 2021 at 6:33 am
That’s awesome! Love the ice cream analogy!!! Darn, now I want to eat some ice cream!