Tag Archives: school

Choosing High School

desk down

Every day is not perfect in high school. Some days I feel like this desk. Most days I don’t though.

A veteran teacher asked me, “Are these the students you want to teach after student teaching?” after finishing a day substituting in my classroom of sophomores. I made eye contact from across the room as I pushed in chairs and closed left-open literature text books and answered, “Yes, exactly.” I bent over to pick up a Jolly Rancher wrapper off the floor and as I threw it in the trash, I reflected upon my words.

It’s amazing to me to see the potential and talent in my students, something I hope some of my high school teachers saw in me at one point. I was never an easy student; I see my high school-self in many of my most challenging students. But then I look at my students who have a love of reading and writing and realize I see my teenage-self in them too. I think I took on many teenage personalities back then. I always knew I’d be good, if only I could escape from the town and people who surrounded me. I think that’s why I don’t sweat the small stuff. I know most of the students will be all right. Some won’t quite see the light soon enough, but most will. Most will understand how to play the game of Life by attending college, getting jobs, or enlisting in the military. They’ll make decisions based on who they are, not what society has cookie-cuttered out for them. Whichever path they choose is their own and although I feel the pressure laying on my shoulders to push them to their highest achievement right now in English, I understand fully that some kids won’t acquire the love of reading or writing. That’s okay with me.

Sometimes I argue with myself about the meaning of my lessons and I always come back to making it mean something to each student – most students, anyway. Not every lesson or skill will reach every student; not every wish on a Friday afternoon to “Make good choices” gets into my students’ comprehending heads. But I hope at the end of the day my students know I care and understand more than others. Because I’ve been there. I get it. I care.

Completely.

So yes, Mister Veteran Teacher, I do want to teach these pubescent, 15-turning-16, free-as-a-licensed-bird teenagers who many flinch at from afar. I understand middle schoolers may be “more excited to learn” or “would appreciate a teacher a bit more openly”, but I like my students who try to give me the cold shoulder, but can’t because I’m easy to talk to and can take a joke. I choose high schoolers because they are merely kids who very rarely see their own potential and talent. A part of the job I get to do is provide opportunities to see that potential. I get to teach them, guide them, and influence them to believe and be confident in themselves. Because even though they are challenging every. single. day., I want to be that consistent, caring, dependable teacher that I still remember from my high school days. I want to make a difference.

And I will.

Even on days where I get assignments like this. I still want to teach high school.

Even on days where I get assignments like this. I still want to teach high school.

I give stickers. So I'm cool anyway. :P

I give stickers. So I’m cool anyway. 😛

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Kids Are People Too

Many adults don’t give kids enough credit. Kids are overall underestimated. Kids grow up being called “cute” for anything intelligent they do or an “adult-like” action, such as thanking a person for holding the door for them. Adults giggle to themselves and coo, then turn to their spouse and gawk, “What a nice young man.” It’s the little people of the world, saying and doing adult things sporadically that makes us believe in the generation of tomorrow. Kids do naturally encouraging things, and much of it is seen as immaturely cute.

I think kids are stronger than anyone can know. I think many kids don’t know how strong they truly are. I consider kids heroes in their own nature because which one of us, adults, would go back to relive all the trials and tribulations of growing up through the childhood we had or the years and years of school? Maybe we’d pinpoint a certain holiday we’d like to relive or a certain grade with our favorite, influential teacher, but for the majority, I bet we’d agree that we are glad it’s behind us.

Kids have a lot of pressure on their shoulders. Different pressure than I think I had in school. I remember stupid boys pulling pants down in the hallway as a joke, me blushing, and finally just learning to ignore their immaturity — even when they were supposed to be immature kids in their own right. This was the type of bullying I endured, which, let’s be honest, isn’t really bullying to today’s standards. It’s not just the bullying, it’s the depression and stresses they take on from their adult parents and family. In the downturn of the economy, how many teenagers had to step up and get a job instead of study? How many little kids had to quit t-ball because the money just wasn’t there for “fun stuff”?

Kids have to deal with terrorists not only in our country on 9/11, but in their own schools. Whether it’s high school, middle school, or elementary schools, it’s still school. School used to be a synonym for safety, a different kind of home for the students who don’t have one, and  a place for learning stocked with financial support. Now it seems school equals scared, underfunded, struggles, distracted, unpredictable, and trying to stay focused through the realities that lay outside of the double doors.

The weight the world places on kids is heavy. Yet each one of them shines with a spirit only adults wish they possessed. The innocence of kids lives in each of the souls in each classroom, in each yellow school bus, and in each diverse neighborhood. Many adults don’t see it, instead they are stuck in their own world, doing day-to-day activities, running their corporate careers to the top, and focusing on their divorce — another thing in which many kids get stressed. Kids deserve so much more than what we, adults, can guarantee them.

Kids deserve a secure and fully-funded school where students can aspire for their bright futures. We can all help by recognizing that kids are kids, yes, but being a kid doesn’t mean they don’t understand the world the way we do. It may be in a closer knit region, depending on where each lives, but each kid has a brain that interprets their surroundings and reactions from the people they encounter. They look at our adult faces to see how they should feel, react, and respond.

What adults need to do is be real. Always be real and guide the kids with confidence in the right direction. Kids will jump over the moon for us. Their goal is to make us happy even if some days it seems like the opposite. So answer their questions honestly and with love, instead of hiding what the world throws at us. Hug them often and reinforce your support. Make your personal space a safe zone because some day they could come running because it has become the only safe zone left in their world.

Kids are so much more than what they seem.

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