At the end of school today I saw a student that I had first session. He was talking with a few of his friends and I sort of imposed my self on their group as they waited for their bus. I said hi to my former student and asked him what class he’s taking now, second session. “Algebra” he said. “Oh great!” I replied. I followed with a snarky, “what’s better? Algebra or GENERAL SCIENCE?!” Picking up on my snarkiness, he replied with a big smile, “General Science.” I said, “Yeah! That’s right!” and a more serious, “what did you like about General Science?” “Umm, I liked it when you had us make those DNA,” referring to one of my last lessons where I had students construct their own DNA models from pipe cleaners. I smiled and was a bit taken aback by his comment, unsure of what to say back. I simply smiled and said, “Ah, great, well, you have a good afternoon. See you tomorrow.” I didn’t know how to properly respond. It actually felt more like I was in a role play and had to pause to find the perfect reply because all my peers were watching and judging me. I have never before been put into a situation in my very short teaching career where a student actually, to my face, told me that they genuinely enjoyed something I planned for them.
This situation today, makes me reflect that, even though I’m a terrible-teacher-getting-better-every-day, I’m a teacher nonetheless, putting 6 hours or more into each of my lessons, working my tail off just to step in it time and time again. And I do it for myself, or at least that’s what is pushed on us new teachers; that in our first years as a teacher we are doomed to fail our kids. So, I do it for myself, keeping that mantra alive as I plan these lessons to perfection on paper, never really realizing that I did touch someone in the process of actually teaching it, maybe just one, because my vision is myopic…I’m waiting for that second year status—that metal of courage, that I made it: I persisted…Yet, until I can grasp the notion that I made some kind of a difference in one of my students’ lives (albeit, that difference is as little as he payed attention and enjoyed a moment in class), and that I am in fact a qualified teacher in the eyes of my students, then it will be rare for me to not only open myself up to my students, but for them to open up to me. There is certainly a lot I still need to learn from these kids. One of them being pushing myself to build relationships, and two being accepting myself and all that I bring to that school and to my students each day.
And what? This all started from him saying he liked my lesson on DNA? How cheesy, please. ;) A month in and this is my inspiration. One brick at a time.
On a side note, Mississippi is great, I’m very home sick, missing my wife and everyone. But I’m learning something positive each day and growing—oh, am I growing.