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?