To learn about how this page came to be, click on this link: What We Wish We Knew.
I wish my students knew that I remember what it is like to be a student, but I also realize that things are different now and that they face problems and challenges that didn’t even exist when I was in school.
I wish my students knew that I struggled to get along with others in school. I tried very hard to fit in, but the harder I tried to fit in the harder it was for me to make and keep friends. I felt like most people were mean and I nearly shut down in my junior high years into my freshman year of high school. By the time I was a high school senior I had given up trying to fit in and it was at that point that I started to get along with the people I had been trying so hard to impress. I wish I had learned that lesson earlier in my life, so I guess that’s why I want my students to know that the sooner you can start being you—the better.
I wish my students knew that I am shy and introverted. (Though you should know that not all introverts are shy. I just happened to get lucky because I’m both!) When I first start interacting with people, I spend a great deal of time feeling awkward. After I get to know someone, I become more comfortable with him/her (and myself) and I start to be less awkward … or maybe it’s just that I start to feel more comfortable being awkward in front of him/her. Sometimes people think I’m kidding when I tell them I’m a shy introvert. They say, “You can’t be! You stand up and teach kids every day!” but what they don’t know is that during the first few years of my teaching career, I struggled with presenting material in front of students. However, over time I’ve become comfortable talking to students and presenting information to them because I love high school age people! Most of my favorite people are high school students. I still get first-day jitters though–every single year.
I wish my students knew that even though I’m the speech coach, I don’t consider myself a very good public speaker—especially in front of my peers. Even though I directed the fall play and coached the one act team, I don’t consider myself a good actor. That being said—I DO consider myself a good coach of speakers and actors. I am much happier behind the scenes.
I wish my students knew that for my whole life people have said, “Why don’t you smile? What’s wrong? Are you unhappy? Are you mad at me?” even though I am happy most of the time. For some reason, my facial expressions don’t always match what I’m feeling. This facial phenomena has helped me to be less judgmental though. When I see someone who looks grumpy, I give him/her the benefit of the doubt. However, I often look grumpy—or so I’m told. I am constantly thinking and sometimes when I’m thinking all of my brain power goes into thinking and my face goes blank, or a frown appears across my brow line. Sometimes when someone is saying something friendly or something funny, even though I am feeling friendly or find what the other person saying funny, my brain forgets to send my face the message! Sometimes I even THINK I’m smiling when I’m actually scowling. It’s terrible! I have sent the wrong message to many a friend, foe, family member, and student with this face of mine. It causes misunderstandings more than it should. You would think after all these years I would take control of my face, but I haven’t. I am who I am.
I wish my students knew that during the summer I try to make myself a better teacher. I take classes. I attend seminars. I present information to other teachers. I read books about teaching. I read books that I think my students might like. I write and write and write. When I hear people say, “but you get your summers off” I just shake my head. If I didn’t have summers “off” I wouldn’t be able to recharge and become a student myself. I am always planning and thinking about ways to make my classroom a better place for my students.
I wish my students knew that I care about them. This may seem cheesy or insincere, but I promise you it’s not. For one, my students are human beings and I care about all human beings. For two, you are MY students. You are in MY care. I want you to learn, but more importantly, I want you to be happy. It may not seem that way, when we are deliberating over where a comma belongs in a sentence, or if a character in our text is static or dynamic, but the thing is that I don’t care if you know where the comma goes or if you know the difference between a protagonist and an antagonist unless all is well with you. I know you have more things to worry about than English class.
I wish my students knew that when I ask a student to come in for extra help or as a consequence for not having work done, it’s not because I want to punish you. Many times it’s to provide you time to complete your work or to help you complete your work, if you are struggling. (I hope you know that it’s okay to struggle. It might not be fun. It might be frustrating. But life is a struggle. Life is frustrating. Spend time struggling now and it will be easier later.) Other times when I ask you to come in, it’s simply a non-grade consequence for missing a deadline. Sometimes it’s just to talk to you to find out what’s preventing you from completing your work, because I know, in most cases, it’s not just because you forgot. It’s usually because of a bursting-at-the-seams schedule, or because of all of your responsibilities at home, or because it’s easier to say you forgot, when really it’s just because you don’t understand something. I want to know that and help you process through that, and to extend you some empathy when I can.
I wish my students knew that I worry about them. I worry that they get enough sleep or that they suffer from depression or that tests make them anxious or that they might not be getting along with friends or that things might not be totally okay at home. I want you to learn, but more than that, I want you to be okay. I want to celebrate your victories and help you when you are struggling. I can’t fix everything for everyone, but I will try. If you reach out, I’ll be there for you.
I wish my students knew that when they say things like “That rule is dumb because …” that many times I agree with them. Some rules were put in place so long ago and they are kept in place because that’s what’s always been done and no one thought to change it. Sometimes rules are put in place because a small group of people screwed up one time and as a reaction, a new rule was born. Those ARE dumb reasons for rules. Sometimes I don’t like rules, but I understand why some of them need to exist.
I wish my students knew that I WANT them to question authority. (They just need to learn to do it in an effective—usually respectful—way.) Those who question the status quo are who keep the world honest and push the world to change for the better. Comply when you need to get by, but push back when something in your gut doesn’t feel right. I want you to seek fairness and stand up for the underdog. If you are the underdog, know that I am rooting for you. If you are on the fringe, I will be there to support you. If you are waving your freak flag, I will wave mine back. 🙂
I wish my students knew that I’m glad each one of them is in my class because I know I can learn from each of them. One of the best things about being a teacher is all of the learning I get to do because of my students.
I wish my students knew that I feel very lucky to have this job and that I look forward to the year ahead.