I wish I could share all my stories about my students, but of course it wouldn't be ethical for me to write details about them on my blog, especially now that so many people know who I am and where I teach. Anybody who is used to dealing with 12-14-year-olds knows anyway how wonderful and frustrating and inspiring and maddening they are.
We're accustomed to talking about kids in terms of their potential, what they may become one day. That's appropriate, but there's so much to them right now, as well. My daughter gets annoyed because she says whenever she expresses an opinion, someone is sure to tell her that she will probably change her mind when she's older. "It's irrelevant what I'll think when I'm older," she huffs. "This is what I think now."
She's right. The future matters, but it may never come. Now matters now. And right now I love these kids, the humor and mischief of them, the confusion and disorganization of them, the unexpected kindness I see between them. I love the way they list their closest friends as siblings on Facebook (I know the feeling, guys). I love the way they throw footballs and kick soccer balls and get excited about what they are reading. Even the ones who refuse to read - I love them too. I just keep working on them.
Kids: what a gift they are, even when they are driving you crazy. Even when you feel as though you sound like the teacher in Peanuts to them, and all they hear is "Wha wha wha wha" when you speak. I miss the ones that have left and I welcome the new ones.
I remember the first teacher evaluation I ever got. I was 21 and in my first semester as a TA. Some of my students were older than I was, and I had no idea what I was doing as a teacher. My evaluator wrote that my manner in the classroom was "very pleasant, like a mother," and then, obviously realizing how unlikely it was that I could be a mother to those kids when I was barely out of my teens, "or an older sister." Now that I'm old enough to be all my students' mother, and now that I've been teaching longer than any members of my current classes have been alive, I think back to that and thank God for all the students I've had since then and how much I have learned from all of them - way more than they have learned from me.
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