I lied. I didn’t mean to. The good intentions were there, but I lied….
Years ago, I had a student. A student that drove me absolutely crazy the first year I taught him. He wouldn’t do anything but sleep in class. He would refuse to do his work OR sometimes, if his fellow classmate was there (who also drove me insane), then they would both just act up to the point that I was left wondering if I would return the next day. It was one of those teaching years that made you question your career. We all have them if you didn’t know.
I always do return and eventually that school year was over. The next year was better, but I taught that same student again. Except since I had taught him the previous year, I could now see his behaviors for what they really were: cries of help, boredom, inability to figure out the lesson we were working on, low reading ability, a way to get around not doing the work because he was then getting in trouble.
I ended up truly caring for and loving this student. I constantly talked with his other teachers so that if he was acting up in their classes, they could just send him to me. When this happened, we would talk. He would calm down and eventually would go back to class. I felt like I was helping him. I am not sure if I did. He later ended up using it as just a way to get out of class. It was hard to make him go back to class at times, because I genuinely wanted to help him. I genuinely cared. The next year after that, I no longer taught him. He had moved on to high school. Before he left the middle school I taught at, we had spoken about high school. I looked him straight into his eyes and said “You better keep acting right in high school. I am going to check up on you still and I better hear good things. You are a great person and you need to show them that.”
I didn’t know it then, but I had just lied.
I tried to keep an eye on him. I really did. But that is life. That is being a teacher. You have these children for a year. Sometimes two and then you don’t see them again. You are their teacher, their counselor, their day-parent if you will, their cafeteria worker, their listener, their authority figure, their janitor, their friend, etc, etc.
Many people think that teachers have it easy. We get the summers off and all we have to do is teach. I wish that were true. For many of us, the breaks are what hold us together. I am a career switcher and I truly feel that teaching is one of the hardest professions. Those breaks are a life saver..truly.
In teaching, there are two aspects that I struggle with: behavior and missing my students. I deal with all types of behaviors since I am a special education teacher, but I knew that going into this job. Although some years are more taxing on me than others. Missing my students is hard. When I love someone, I truly love them. I love my students with everything I have. I stay up late at times figuring out lessons and changing parts of it in my head because I know how they might react, what they might struggle with, or providing extra work for some and what I can help with more for others. I wake up in the middle of the night wondering if they are alright because I had heard something just wasn’t right at home. In the middle of the day at least once a month, I will smile and think “None Ya!” and picture that little 3rd grader that I once taught telling me “none ya” with her sassy, cute little smile. She will be graduating soon. I remember their names. I remember their smiles. I remember them like it was yesterday. I just will never see them again. Because that is a teacher’s life.
I wonder what they are doing. I wonder if that boy I cared about so much pulled it together or if he is still getting in trouble. I hear about him every now and then. Last I heard, he was not doing well, but that was last year. Hopefully, this year he is going great. I hope. He truly had so much potential.
I thought about him yesterday which led to this post. What led me to thinking of him? Well…that is the shocker of the weekend..when I saw a previous student on “16 and pregnant”. There she was. I only saw a few minutes, but it was enough to see that she was my student many years ago. I only had her for homeroom I believe, but I do remember her. I remember the majority of my students. It made me remember my lie. I didn’t mean for it to be a lie. But it was.