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I am a mommy, scribe, and middle-school English teacher. I am trying to cope with being separated from my beloved. DoUWantMore? email me: theprisonerswife@gmail.com

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the do-over

Posted by the prisoner's wife On 5:38 PM

I can finally breathe.

The school year has taken its last, long winding turn into the summer sun. The kids are gone. The grades are in. The room is packed up (well, not really), and I can finally relax.

This year seemed to last FOREVER. Longer even than my previous years teaching. Now that I have time to look back and reflect on how it went, I’m longing for a “do-over.”

My students were more than a handful this year, they were like a duffel bag of firecrackers, each full of their own opinion, swagger, and hormonally driven angst. I had to fight some of them every step of the way just so they’d see that what we did in that room was valuable. Some battles I won, some, I was beaten down, but at the end of the day I hope each of my students walked away with at least ONE lesson learned.

The last month or so of school, we read the novel, Monster, by Walter Dean Myers. In the novel, a sixteen-year-old boy was on trial for murder. I knew my students would be interested in the novel—strictly on the subject matter alone—but I didn’t know they’d LOVE it. To date, three books are “missing,” stolen by someone itching to take this masterpiece home with them. A stolen book, in a class full of self-proclaimed non-readers, is the highest compliment. So I was pleased not only that many of them told me, “that story is dope Miss,” but also because they could see themselves between the pages. For once they saw themselves and a world that looked like theirs reflected in a book. And that made my heart smile. To see them so deeply engrossed in the book, they yelled when we had to stop, lifted my spirits. But it also made me wonder how differently the year might have gone had I included more books like these in my class? Would they have listened more? Would they have tried harder? Would they have not gotten into that fight? These are the questions I struggle with as I run this year back through my mind over and over again.

If I could do this year over again (and lords knows, I don’t wanna!) I’d pick better books. I’d focus on building a family, before we building perfect sentences, and I’d make sure to celebrate their every achievements—no matter how small. If I had it to do over again, I’d be their biggest cheerleader and critic, pulling no punches and not just pacifying them because I’m tired, or not into it, or feeling lazy to fight. If I had to do over again, I’d work a little smarter, not harder, saving my energy for what really counts—them.

This year is officially over, so there’s no going back. What I can do, however, is think about the issues, my battles and victories and do better next school year. Even though today is over, everyday offers you an opportunity to do it over.

What do you wish you could do over?
How will you improve on what you did today to make tomorrow truly GREAT?

6 Response to 'the do-over'

  1. Color Online Said,
    http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2009/06/do-over.html?showComment=1245465972646#c5021707377694201614'> Friday, June 19, 2009 7:46:00 PM

    There is nothing like a non-reader telling me she enjoyed a book she found in the library. I struggle with shrinkage and I confess, I get frustrated. When I think the girl kept it because she loved it, I'm happy. But a lot of my girls aren't there yet. They simply haven't come to value things they don't think directly impact them and books is high on that list. Still reading post reminds me to be hopeful.

    We're gearing up for a summer program at the agency and the library (me) is hosting a reading challenge. Pray, I can make it fun and they'll respond.

    Yes, choosing the right books. I've learned to listen, pay attention to my girls so I have a shot of suggesting the right book. Happy to say I have gotten better since taking on the library almost four years ago.

    It's good to reflect. Here's to you recharging and moving forward.


  2. Pamela Said,
    http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2009/06/do-over.html?showComment=1245516899766#c1429898214354445388'> Saturday, June 20, 2009 9:54:00 AM

    Your insight is brilliant. I really enjoy your writing.


  3. Lovebabz Said,
    http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2009/06/do-over.html?showComment=1245535226836#c3960828524612916686'> Saturday, June 20, 2009 3:00:00 PM

    YOU my dear are a marvelous educator. You care and it SHOWS! I do not believe you need a do-over. I am convinced that all that you wanted for them they got. You may not witnessed it but trust me they got you and your lessons.

    Choosing different books? maybe...just know that you have sparked the desire to read and a few of them will seek out books just because you lit the spark! You did that!

    As I have said to you before, you will not see the affects of your presence in their life. But know that it is there. You are inspiring! and they kept coming back giving you drama because they needed you to prove you care and could take their shit...and you did!

    Enjoy your summer! ((HUGS))


  4. http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2009/06/do-over.html?showComment=1245547737013#c966827265382881845'> Saturday, June 20, 2009 6:28:00 PM

    color online: i feel you. it's great when a non-reader loves a book & it is very irritating when they take them because you're right, they don't seem to value books. but it's a struggle we live with, ya know>?

    Pamela: thanks so much! i'm glad you enjoy my writing.

    Babz: sis, thank you for always being one of my cheerleaders. it's good to have people like you in my corner, thanks for always being encouraging!


  5. Stephen Bess Said,
    http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2009/06/do-over.html?showComment=1245770799041#c7510855006213347843'> Tuesday, June 23, 2009 8:26:00 AM

    This makes me think of my first year as a teacher. There are some things I would've done differently, but the important thing is that you recognize the things that you want to improve on. Self-reflection is important in all that we do. Great job for the 2008-2009 school year! I know that you will continue to soar as a teacher. I wish you all the blessings for your work. Peace~


  6. SE'LAH... Said,
    http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2009/06/do-over.html?showComment=1246223032244#c4228779592382370802'> Sunday, June 28, 2009 2:03:00 PM

    It's so good to visit you and read your analysis of life. I always leave here fulfilled. You are a great writer.