This was the title of a blog I was going to write last week. A student had said something relatively nice and I was shocked at how nice it made me feel. It got run over by the last three or four days of just general jackassory in my classroom, so it was shelved.
Until this weekend.
No, no uh ohs, this is a good thing.
As a middle school teacher and coach, I get invited to an occasional graduation party, which is always nice. I try to get to as many as I can because if they remembered me, it’s the very least I can do to show up and say hi. We went to a couple last week and saw tons of people.
Anyway, in one of my announcements was a note. Now, this is unusual because usually, it’s just the picture, time, place, that sort of thing. I was wondering what this former student could have written me because it was always a struggle. While I won’t go into details of what the note said, but I will say it left me in tears.
I’ll pull out a couple of quotes:
“I had you in sixth and eighth grade and every day, you made it abundantly clear that you care and respect everyone, no matter what.”
“You made a difference in ways that you will never truly know.”
Yup, the Grinch’s heart grew two sizes when he read this letter. Seriously. This year, this quarter has been tough. So tough that I’ve seriously questioned myself and my ability to continue teaching. I don’t feel the connections as much as I have in the past because I’m dealing with so many behaviors I’ve never dealt with before. But reading something like this gives me hope. Hope that my classroom is and still can be a place where students can feel like they can just be themselves without fear. Hope that students move on and remember those lessons and that they carry that in their hearts in high school and beyond. Hope that with the impending summer vacation, I can find my horizon and continue doing what I do best, making a difference.
I still have a bunch of graduation parties to attend. I’ll shake hands, give hugs, talk to students about their goals moving on from high school, talk to their parents about getting them out of the house, and sit back and enjoy the commotion around me, knowing that in a very small, slight way, I helped to get those students to this point.
Sometimes, we get thrown off course, dragged around by all the idiocy of the media, the legislative foolishness, or just the fact we are bone-tired. It’s at these times that my bag of stuff is pulled out. Inside, notes like this one, pictures, and jokes, 99% student-created, are there to help me remember my why.
While I’m not totally back on course, and with five rough days of sea ahead, I may be knocked around some more. But I know why I keep coming back. To make sure my classroom, my students know they are loved, they are respected, and they are honored for being the awesome human beings they are. Because in the end, they don’t remember my social studies lessons, they remember how I made them feel.
But they also need to know where Iowa is on a map! 🙂