Here we are, a week after the second quarter has finished of my first year of teaching. I can not believe what my students have taught me already. They continue to amaze me each and every day.
1. Respect is EVERYTHING.
For the majority of the students at my school, respect is literally all they have. All they have to offer; to take away; to lose; to earn. Respect drives every interaction. If you have their respect, that means they feel that you respect them. Respect is such a big deal because of their home lives. All they know is who has been there and who hasn’t. Once you lose that respect, it will take a very, very long time for you to earn it back; if ever.
2. They are way older than junior high.
My students have seen so much more life than most of us did when we were their age. They know (and care) more about surviving on the streets than about annotating and paraphrasing the Declaration of Independence. They can’t see past tomorrow. They’ve grown up way too fast without learning how to think about their future. One sad reality for me was when we asked one seventh grade class what one of their life long goals were.. and the majority of them said they wanted to make it to high school.
3. I have a bigger impact than I thought.
One of the eighth grade teachers has her students write appreciation letters to different people at the school. Last week I received eight letters from eight different students. Two of the students have actually never experienced me in the classroom. It’s really cool watching students open up and begin trusting in you; they gain confidence and begin trusting in themselves. I try to instill in each one of my students that they matter; through my actions and words.
4. I care about them way more than I thought I could.
My students are the reason I teach. They really do listen to what I have to say and they work their butts off… even when they don’t want to. They brighten my darkest days. My favorite part of my warning is when two sisters come in through the gate beaming and running down to hug me. They are both much younger than the students that I work with… but every morning they hug me and tell me good morning. Over long weekends, I worry about my students. I genuinely care about them and want them to be successful in all areas of their life.
5. I really can do this.
Whenever I am doubting myself; my students and their hard work and progress remind me that I can. They remind me that I’ve worked hard for where I’m at; that we have worked hard together this year… pushing ourselves and each other.
My students really are amazing. I am so proud of them and everything that they have been doing and working for.
-Giddy First Year Teacher Moment-