School has begun. It’s back to work for this high school English teacher. This is how the school year starts for me.
I look out at my students. I study them. Who am I working with? What makes them tic? What challenges do they have?
I see a young man in one of my senior English classes. He’s quiet, eager to do right. Yet, he’s scared and nearly shaking. When he talks, it’s clear that there are some issues he’s dealing with. He appears alone and fragile. I’ll have to be careful with him, sensitive.
The girl in my senior class is familiar. I taught her in the 10th grade. Her moods swayed like a bridge in desperate need of repair. The boys seemed scared of her. I liked her on her good days. She participated and was willing to learn. Her writing was inconsistent. Now, she’s a mom. She’s not the first senior I had with a child. Still, I worry for her and the child. How will she have time for school and a life?
There’s a rambunctious boy in my sophomore class. Seriously. His energy level is ridiculous. He clearly can’t handle himself. I’ve been told he’s a struggling student. I wouldn’t know. He has done no work yet. He is too busy pruning for laughs. I’ve already spoken to his mother. I hope it helps.
There’s a girl in my sophomore class. She’s short. And loud with seemingly no filter button. Her work/participation has been weak so far. She seems more interested in strolling the hallways despite claims of injured feet. Then yesterday, she shared her journal entry. Her sister died last year of cancer. She could not make it to the funeral. Maybe, there’s a way to get to her.
Oh, I’m so very glad that you wrote about your beginning of school! It’s a good perspective for those of us that wonder what is going through the teacher’s mind! Yesterday I had a talk with one of T’s teachers (after several talks with T) and I told her that she was really hurting his feelings and I didn’t think they were on the same page, at all! Mr. T managed to connect with her and I think they cleared the air and everything shall be much better this after this! Which is good, as he’s trying to graduate a year early. It’s not easy having a kid that wants to graduate at 16… His brain is still developing! So, I have the utmost respect for those of you that sit behind that desk! Good luck to you this year and I hope you are really blessed with good students and I know that you will make a lasting impression on them!
I’m glad that you are. I know you were demanding it, so I responded.
I’m glad that T connected with his teacher. Being on the same page is so important. It is the start of a relationship and people are not clear on what the other wants/needs.
Enjoy your school year Larry! I would have liked to have you as my teacher!
Thanks on both accounts.
Your students are blessed to have you for a teacher. You’re paying attention. Adapting. Learning from them and listening to them. That’s amazing. I so hope you’re able to reach these kids. Who knows? Maybe in 20 years they’ll look back and say, “yeah, Mr. B was the one teacher who really cared. The one who made a difference.”
I hope I can reach them to. They may say that in 20 years and that would be very cool and satisfying. However, I am not so sure they feel blessed at the moment.
Few people feel blessed when they’re being pushed into personal growth. It’s painful, but one day, they will appreciate it.
Hope, hope, hope!
Beautifully written, Larry!
I like the way you wrote this, a great perspective. You sound like a caring and very aware teacher with empathy and concern in your heart for them, they are lucky to have you. In high school, it was my English teachers who drew me out of my shell and to whom I gave my trust. Words and the emotions they can convey so much (and especially the power of the unspoken) and allow you, as an English teacher, to really get to see a piece of them that they may not show others.
Thanks my future colleague.I pride myself on empathy/concern and believe English offers opportunities (between writing and discussions) that some other classes simply dont.
Beautiful writing! Loved this sentence: “Her moods swayed like a bridge in desperate need of repair.” Your school and students are lucky to have such an observant, sensitive teacher!
Thanks. I don’t know if the school/students would always second that.
It is good to know that there are still teachers who will bother to get to know their students. For those in their senior year, this may be the last contact they have with reading and writing – especially journaling. Good on you to keep them thinking, even if it seems they aren’t listening to a darned then you say. They can hear you. Trust me.
I so miss the classroom. I miss teaching of any kind, even Cub Scouts. But, oh well, there is a time and a season, and mine is past its sell by date. Keep up the good work.
I hope for that – even if it seems they aren’t listening to a darned then you say, they can hear you. It gives me hope.
Best of luck this year with your next crop of students.
I think I am going need to need it!