I am participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge: A slice a day for all of March. You should do it too! Thank you, Two Writing Teachers! Readers, check out their site, and start slicing!
Today I am a 6th grade teacher. I plan lessons, I love learning. I attempt to listen to my students more than I talk to them. I enjoy my school day and I try to balance my life as a teacher and a mom.
28 years ago, I was a fifth grader (I think I did that math correctly…) and I did not enjoy school. I was not having a good year. I cried myself to sleep every night. I missed my best friend, my old house, the way things used to be. I lived middle school in a daze. I moved from classroom to classroom. With so many teachers, I tried to learn, I think. But learning wasn’t my priority. Practicing math facts and spelling words were things people told me to do, not things I cared about. I had a headache every day. My teachers didn’t believe me. It was not a good year.
Today I sit with a student and his mom, 2 other teachers, and a guidance counselor. We are talking about organization and writing things in the assignment book. We discuss zoning out vs. paying attention to what is being said, and how to know what work needs to be done. It feels respectful, it feels like a team. My student is calm as he answers questions, and he listens as we explain. We tell him things like, “We know it’s hard” and “We’re here to help you.”
28 years ago, I was the student with my mom, in a room with my teachers, counselor and I think my principal too. I don’t remember why we were there exactly — a combination of my poor grades and my headaches that most of the teachers thought I was faking. I do not remember feeling calm. I remember feeling attacked and nervous. I remember my chin shaking as I stuck up for myself. I remember telling them that it wasn’t okay that Mr. R played music while we took quizzes, that I couldn’t concentrate. I remember Mrs. M joining my side, sticking up for me. I remember my mom telling them that I did indeed have headaches, that I was trying my best. I remember her telling me that I did a good job sticking up for myself in front of all of my teachers and the other adults.
Today I sit in a meeting and I find myself transported back to my meeting 28 years ago.
I hope my student feels it, the reason we are here. I hope he knows that we are trying to help him. I hope he knows this is a team.
As he leaves I say, “You did a great job talking to all of these adults! Thank you.”