Every day, I walk into an empty classroom at around 6:00 am. It is absolutely quiet and peaceful, and it stays that way for about 45 minutes. It gives me time to gather my thoughts, make any last preparations for the day, and then say hello as the first batch of groggy students rolls in for a 7:10 am dose of economics.
Thus starts one of the best days of my life. Which just so happens to be every single day. Why? Because of the time I get to spend with my students.
I mean, if I am being honest, I know not all my students like being in my class. There’s that kid first hour who is always sleeping, or the group in 5th hour that always tests me (I swear they get together at lunch and discuss “How can we make Mr. S mad today). But even those kids just add to the experience, challenging me to find new ways to reach every one of them. I try to create a warm and inviting environment where kids are free to take risks and express their ideas and know they have at least one place they can go where someone supports them.
In return, my students reward me by engaging… by plugging in and taking part and showcasing the marvelous ideas that they have. Seriously, there are times when I listen to my students talk and I get excited about the future of our country again. That certainly doesn’t happen when I am listening the news about how dysfunctional our government is or the latest shooting tragedy. Our future is in the hands of these kids (at least if we can last long enough to give it to them) and I think their hands are more than capable.
In the past year, I have seen kids showcase bravery in the face of a parent that died. I have seen students suffer severe injuries and not let it affect their studies (and make amazing comebacks from a serious surgery). I have seen students balance far more than we ever had to balance back in the good old days of the 1980’s and 90’s. I have watched students come up with creative ideas for solving the problems our nation faces (although the “take social security away from old people and let them survive or die” was a bit harsh… but at least she felt comfortable enough to suggest it!). I have tried not to laugh when students mispronounce the name of our Speaker of the House. I have celebrated when they tell me they have been accepted to UofM or Harvard or Wayne State or Schoolcraft. I have tried not to shed a tear when a struggling student finally “gets” it. I have felt pride as students move on to the next phase of their life. I have felt sadness in knowing that they probably won’t remember me, but I still feel hope that I had a positive impact on them.
I hope my students accomplish the most amazing things in life. And on this, day three of giving thanks, I am thankful for each and every student that has spent time in my classroom – it was my honor and privilege to be called their teacher, and I hope they all know I gave them the best that I had.