Nancy is such a faithful reader. I connected with her years ago through KnittingHelp and then discovered that she had spent her life immersed in her teaching career. Thus, her comments are so kind and full of encouragement that is much needed when teaching finds me in the weeds.
She commented on yesterday’s blog post and mentioned that this writing prompt gave my students a voice and that my room was a safe place to express themselves.
Interestingly enough, my sixth period class and I had just that kind of discussion after their presentations. I asked them if they felt that they would have shared so deeply had I assigned this writing to them at the beginning of the year.
K, a sweet child you’ll get to read more about later, said that although the kids had shared personal things (two truths and a lie) on the first day of school, they had not shared like they did when they read their essays.
I asked why, and students said that they didn’t know each other well enough to get into their feelings.
I’ve been so hard on myself regarding the peer respect…or lack thereof…in my classes this year. Perhaps I was too harsh, for this particular class, despite being my most difficult throughout the year (they twerked for a sub, played with the baking soda in my small refrigerator when I had a sub, and yelled up and down the hallways between class sessions), we grew the most, and they had endeared themselves to my heart by year’s end.
So, with all of that said, I think it’s time I get back to sharing their writing.
My students’ essays reminded me that although I do develop good relationships with my students, there are still so many things they don’t tell me…things that affect their ability to function in school…unspoken things that teachers need to be aware exist and are the cause for kids not doing their work or being distracted in class.
R is one such child. Take a look at what she had to deal with all year (and she always came in smiling, so I had no clue!!)…
I want to be remembered as the girl who’s dad had a heart transplant. My family was very pleased that my dad got a new heart. So I don’t get to see my mom and dad for three months, not like you who gets to see them everyday.When my dad gets home in August I will be happy and also sad. He will be able to do a lot more things with me and my brother now. Hopefully my family will be a lot happier.
Now, let me introduce you to J. This girl. God placed this girl in my class to teach me patience. She was loud, except when she was sick. When she wasn’t sick, she talked. Non-stop. She lived most of her life in my classroom on one of my “islands.” She still talked. Her picture should be in the following meme…
I chuckled when I read the following in her essay…
I want to be remembered by the girl that can make anyone laugh,not by the girl with the bad attitude and talks back. I mean yes I’m rude at times and always talk back,but hey,everybody has a bad day.
Something interesting happened during the year, though. I found out she worked after school at the mall. In fact, one day, work called her while she was IN MY CLASS. I was not happy, but it was an indication that she was a valued employee.
I would like to be remembered by the girl that gets stuff she earns. Not the spoiled rotten brat that only see it her way.
I saw glimpses into her heart, and her laugh, though it will probably haunt my dreams for a long time, was infectious. I really, really liked what she wrote in the following part of her essay because it went beyond the fun outer exterior…
Another thing I wanted to be remembered by is a child that loves her grandparents. I don’t want to be remembered as the child that only calls that grandparents when they want something. I want to be remembered by being the best big sister , not the bully of the house.I want to be the leader of my siblings, so they don’t turn out like my parents.I want to be remembered as a girl who’s know as a social butterfly , not the hibernating shy girl.
Social butterfly…yes. That she was and will continue to be.
Now, let’s turn more serious for a few minutes.
Let’s get back to that trust thing…that safe feeling.
S came into my class about halfway into the year. He was quiet and always complied. He was eager to please.
What he wrote in his essay completely blew me away. I think you’ll find your heart touched as well.
I want to be remembered by my personality, and always doing my work, and being on time to class. I don’t want to be remembered as the guy who everyone asks if I’m gay. I want to be remembered for more than something ridiculous like that. I would rather be remembered for much better things than the “gay guy” or being talked about behind my back because the way my voice sounds, and the way I act. It may not seem that I’m straight but to a point it gets hard to put up with but it makes me a stronger person. When I go to school and get asked almost every day if I’m gay I just do my work and try to block out the negative things that everyone is saying.
Oh word. This poor kiddo.
Every school year since I have been in school, I have to deal with people asking me if I am gay. I am tired of people thinking that I am gay, and I want them to think of more than that I want them to think about how I get to class every day on time I actually do my work and try my hardest I am not the kind of person who tries to impress other people but I am the kind of person who tries to do the extra things and help people out if I can. People’s personalities don’t always show you who they really are like me I don’t show my personality unless I want to try to get to know you.
“People’s personalities don’t always show you who they really are.”
Such insightful words.
Don’t we cover up who we are by loud exteriors or, in my case, shy ones?
We do this to protect ourselves.
S has got it figured out.
I love the way he ended his essay…
As the year progresses, students are moving, and the new students who start to go to my school that I happen to try to talk to, and get to know ask me if I’m gay, most of the time it bothers me, and the other part of the time I just act like I was never even asked. For that it makes me a much better person, and helps me get stronger to get through life it also helps me see what the other people are like, and shows me who I want to talk to, and who I don’t want to associate with. I want to be remembered by my personality, and always doing my work, and being on time to class that’s how I want to be remembered.
S knows that this stuff he’s going through is making him stronger for life.
He’ll come out on the winning side because of this self-awareness. It bespeaks a maturity level far beyond his age.
Stay turned for more snippets in the next installment of my little series.