Something I’ve learned many times before but continue to learn every day is that nothing in education will turn out as expected. The “solid gold” lessons won’t be received as you imagined (or hoped), the “total crap” lessons will hit some just right, and the emotions and break-downs and fights you expect will not happen when you expect them.
My first term as a high school teacher just ended in December and nothing went as I expected. Kids I thought would throw fits over failing didn’t, kids I thought would fail pulled it out at the last second and some that I thought would pass lost their momentum too soon.
Overwhelmingly though: I am continually floored by how much I love these kids. How much I want to hug them when they cry and tell them it’ll work out even though it feels terrible right now.
I push them hard every day, nobody is allowed to take the L. I expect greatness from everyone, no one is mediocre. I don’t hand out good grades until they’ve been earned. I get called mean on the regular, I’m always “extra” and “doing too much.” I get mad sometimes because CAN EVERYONE STOP TALKING OVER ME?
But still, when they celebrate, I celebrate. Nothing is better than seeing that smile they tried to hide when they find out they passed.
And when they cry, I cry. Nothing is harder than seeing the despair they’re trying to hide when they find out they won’t pass.
There was this small part of my brain that thought I’d feel justified and righteous handing out failing marks to those kids that have blown off the work and made bad choices. Because I’m teaching them lessons in social studies but I’m also teaching about consequences and professionalism. I thought somehow it might feel good to give a well-earned failing mark.
I was surprised at how much it hurts me when they hurt, even when the pain is necessary.
I’ve known these kids for three months, but something clicked in the hall with Elle while I held her and let her cry through my sweater. Something clicked when Steven laughed out loud at the news of passing my class and couldn’t stop grinning. Something clicked when Kam came in late to study hall and begged me to let him finish his work and pass, and his relief when I let him.
These kids are magic. And I am forever honored to be connected to them in even the smallest way.
Best of luck.