Today is the last day of school. And may I say….. FINALLY!! We were the last district in the state, from my understanding, to get out of school. It’s been a long year, and in some ways, the most difficult year of my career. The last month alone has done unspeakable damage to my poor beat up digestive system. But as I sit here right now, watching my last class take their last exam, my thoughts aren’t even on the summer ahead….. My thoughts are on them.
These are eighth graders. They don’t think of themselves as children and get very annoyed when others do. But they are, like it or not. And they’re precious: Every. Single. One. Of them.
The boy who came up each day and gave me a convoluted summary of whatever he’d read the day before? Even when I was obviously busy? Yep.
The girl who would NOT pick her head up off the desk and only turned in the bare minimum of what was asked of her? Yep.
The boy who announced almost daily that he was quitting as soon as he got to the legal age and did virtually nothing in class (except, I think, try to recruit gang members)? Yep.
I also had a boy, failing almost all classes, who found a book this year. A first-time-ever experience – a book that he loved and walked out of my class one day, literally with it in front of his face. He tells me it’s the first time he’s finished a book. The first words he spoke directly to me were, “Can I check this out?” YES!!!!!
I also had a girl discover her inner writer. She’s been working on the same story all year in our free-choice writing time. That, my dear, I told her, is a NOVEL! Should have seen that beaming face…..
I have tried for years to get a graduate degree, but God closed the door each time. I have tried for years to get a different job, but God closed the door each time. When I asked him tearfully why He wouldn’t let me do those things, He had me look at my classroom – at all those wiggly, spacey third graders, all those insecure, prepubesent sixth and seventh graders, and all these sullen and sarcastic (as my teacher friend defined them) eighth graders – and He showed me the answer.
They’re enough. My other goals are for me, but when it comes down to it, these guys are enough. I read, attend training, and continue to teach myself about my craft. No fancy letters after my name for that, but I know the difference it makes. And they’re worth it. Even those days I want to pinch their heads off.
How is it that people go through their lives and don’t give a thought to the children? Theirs or others’? Aren’t they what it’s all about? Aren’t they our most precious resource?
That’s why I’m a teacher. And thankful for it.