“What a great group of kids…” She tells me as she turns toward the door. “Thank you for having me, they are fun.”
I nod, smile, go through the motions of the compliment, and yet it is not until the quiet settles in that I truly realize the power of her words.
I teach a great group of students. I tell them that often. I teach a group of students who have a lot of energy, who demand a lot, who complain at times and when they do they do so loudly. I teach a group of kids who are not engaged easily, who sometimes are unkind, to each other, to me. Who sometimes speak before they think. I teach a group of kids who are always pushing me to grow, who are always pushing me to reflect, who sometimes make me feel like today I figured “it” out and other days like I am so far from the answer. They are loud, they are rambunctious, and yes, they are fun.
And sometimes I forget that. Sometimes I forget that teaching 7th graders doesn’t just mean teaching English. Doesn’t mean just teaching reading, or writing, or speaking, or anything else academically we can squeeze into our short 45 minutes together. That I teach kids who make me laugh, who make me want to come back every day, even when I think that today they could have worked harder, been less disruptive, and perhaps focused a little bit more.
When we bring others in, we are reminded that it is not just us they look at. Not just our performance as we try to figure out how to be better teachers. They also look at our children, the very kids we get to teach day in and day out. They do not just see all of the little perceived imperfections that we have noticed as we have studied these students for months. They do not just see that one kid that knows better. Just that one kid that should be doing something else. They see all of them; their energy, their engagement, and yes, even how fun they are.
Today I was reminded again of why I love teaching so much, not that I had forgotten, but still… How we are meant to explore. How we are meant to change the lesson to discuss something that just came up. How we are meant to adapt as we go, mold and shape it around the very kids that have entered into our rooms. That teaching, that learning, that being together in a classroom environment is meant to be an exploration, not just a sit-and-get, not just a silent-and-compliant. So if you feel yourself focusing in on all of the things that still need to get fixed. If you feel yourself getting wound up or brought down. If you feel yourself drained from noticing all of the things that still don’t work; invite someone in to see you teach. Invite someone in who doesn’t get to be around your kids. Invite someone in not just so you can grow but so that you can remember; they are kids, they are loud, but they are also what brings us back every single day. Thank you Andrea for reminding me today.