Thanks to all of the not sleeping, the first week of school is a bit of a blur for me. I have a heck of a time remembering, each period, which students will be coming in. This despite having only one to three students in each class. There's the girl who told me, "I can be a handful." (Bit of an understatement, per her recent teachers.) The boy who asked if the homework was going to get harder. I asked whether he wanted it to and he said yes, because he needs someone to push him. The middle schooler who calls me Ms. Grah-ham and I don't correct him because it's just too adorable. Then, of course, there is the student who tells me every day that hates school and he's ready to go home, despite having two more classes after mine. The one who has already done neither of the two very short homework assignments I've given.
Because our school is full of kids with language disorders and is very literacy-based, every student has to have a battery of reading tests administered at the beginning and end of the school year. The students and I were equally tired, I think, by the end of the week of test taking and administering. I spent a few hours scoring tests after school on Friday. With almost every score I'd write down, I'd think to myself, "Poor guy." It's sad to see the kind of deficits these kids are up against. I was exhausted and getting ready to pack up and bring the rest of it home to do when I decided to get reading their journals out of the way before the weekend.
Internet, their journals. I fell a little bit in love with each and every one of them.
I know I can count on some of you to throw those words in my face on days when they are making me crazy. But it will be those days when I will need most to be able to look back on where a boy wrote earnestly about his goal of having all of his assignments turned in on time for a whole month because he's never done that before and it would show his teachers that he doesn't give up. The girl who can be a handful, who believes it is her duty to keep teachers on their toes by only occasionally doing what she's asked, wants to go to college and become a teacher. Another boy wrote that he knows what it's like to go through a hard time and have to pretend everything is ok. He knows from the time when he and his mom and sisters were homeless. His goal isn't to be rich. It's to change someone's life when that person is going through a hard time like the one he went through.
On those days, I can look back at their words and remind myself that I'm lucky to be entrusted with this particular odd and wonderful bunch of souls. No matter how tired and crazy they may make me. My goal ought to be at least as lofty as my student's, I think. I want to change lives too.
Ladies and gentlemen, school is in session.