A Teacher

I taught middle schoolers for several years, always with the goal each day of being the bright spot in each kid’s day.  I really believed (and still do) that I could make a difference in each student’s life and saw each interaction as an investment in a life.  I would tell students that they would only ever be limited by their desire and perseverance.  We would set personal goals at the beginning of each year and most students would either achieve their academic goals or come close (but still surpass their previous achievement levels).  I had very few students who showed little improvement.  Most experienced two or more years of academic growth on standardized tests.

I saw myself as a motivator, encourager, facilitator, and even teacher.  I didn’t feel that I had to be their friend (after all – I was an adult, not a pre-teen), nor did I feel that I had to be their antagonist (what would be the point?).  We had fun, but worked hard.  Students would tell me that it wasn’t hard to get a C in our class, but that they had to work hard to get an A.

Some made it hard to help them (at least initially), but all were easy to like – kids are often way cooler than adults.

Some of my favorite comments by students:

Student: “You are my favorite teacher.”

Me: “I’m on your back all day, every day.”

Student: “Yeah, but you’re so nice about it.”

Or:

Student: “After being in your class, I believe I can be a teacher.”

Me: “Really!  What made you believe that?”

Student: “I figure if you can do it, anybody can.”

Another:

Student: “You really care about us.”

Me: “What makes you think so?”

Student: “Because you don’t just say it, you do it.”

I’m happy with all of those comments.  I don’t believe you have to yell at someone to discipline them.  I believe I should be an example of “The American Dream.”  It’s not that hard to care about others.

I now teach at a university and still believe the same things.  I do miss the seventh graders, however.

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5 responses to “A Teacher

  1. Anyway thanks for this one… A clear information from a one post… i have to know more about Teacher in your mind. Btw, nice to meet you and your blog here….

  2. Seventh graders are sometimes hard to love – but they need it, perhaps more then than ever! If i were to teach, i’d tackle 7th grade science. There’s still a chance to catch them before they get lost…

    You were a good teacher. You made a difference!

    People tend to avoid middle school kids for various reasons, but they are my favorite group to be around. Thanks for your kindness. BTW, I taught science.

  3. I went to school initially to teach and my student teaching semester was with 7th graders. I just didn’t have the heart for it the way that it sounds like you did/have. It was never a vocation for me. It was a result of “so what do English majors do?” Still, I have some great memories and to think that those students are now in their mid to late 20s kind of freaks me out a little bit. 🙂

    Oddly enough, my student teaching was with first graders (I’m 6’7″ – think Kindergarten Cop with Aaarnoold, now our California Governator). I was a Literature major who ended up teaching science – chemistry and physics – to seventh graders in a couple of program improvement schools. Fortunately, I fell in love with the sciences and determined to only use a textbook after students would start asking questions about chemical reactions or a demonstration of a law of physics.

  4. Aww…that last comment that your student made was precious. I imagine it must be so rewarding to know that you can/have influenced children for the better.

    I think if I were to teach, Middle School/Jr. High, would be my target audience. They are old enough to carry on real conversations and still young enough to have some positive impact on.

    Middle schoolers will do anything for someone they think likes them (because so few people understand them). I really believed (and still do) that if I would have ever asked them to lift the building off the foundation and move it somewhere else, they would have at least tried.
    It was fun to watch their faces light up when they “got” a new concept.
    On top of all that, I really like “Junior High humor” – only funny to a few – centered around the sights and sounds that a human body can create.

  5. When I was a sub, 7th grade was the hardest, the most out of control. Maybe it would have been better if I’d been their regular teacher.

    I am more drawn to high school age… I seem to “get” them better than the other ages. I agree wholeheartedly with your attitude toward teaching, it is about so much more than just the subject matter. It is about developing real understanding and uncovering important meaning, giving the kids confidence and showing them how to love learning… good times!

    I agree. I was a sub for a year or so and just didn’t enjoy it – I felt handcuffed. I think what I least enjoyed was that I couldn’t develop the kind of relationships that are necessary to get kids (to take the risk) to trust, open up, then learn.
    I also served as a high school principal and had a great time getting to know the kids and talking to them on a more adult level.
    It was great. Thanks for commenting.

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