“How do you like high school?” They have been asking me for the last few months.
“Do you like it better than middle school?”
My reply is usually the same. “It’s great. I love it. You can’t compare the two.”
But what I don’t tell them is this…
If my sophomores only knew the power they hold, there is nothing they couldn’t accomplish. The potential they possess is beyond any realm of their understanding. Do they even know they have their entire lives ahead of them? Do they know they are capable of anything and everything? Do they know the world is theirs if they want it? With so many choices to make, do they even know how wonderful and frightening it all is at the same time?
What’s even more frightening than that is the fact that I am their teacher. I am expected to lead them down the right path- to encourage them- to listen to their lives’ events- to try not to be judgmental- and to help them make the right decisions along the way. No pressure! I have been a teacher for fifteen years, fourteen of those at the middle school level. I honestly believed there were no better kids than middle school kids, and there aren’t. But, my sophomores are just as amazing, if not more. It’s been nothing short of awesome to witness how much they have matured in the last four years since I last taught them. I am astonished by their intuitive awareness, their opinions, their commitment, maybe not to school or my class, but to themselves and what they love.
I am not so blind that I can’t admit that at times they make me crazy, sometimes to the point of wanting to bash my head repeatedly into the chalkboard. (I have to admit that some days it is as much me as it is them – hormones – Go figure!) Just about the time I am ready to throw my hands up and surrender, I read one of my student’s insightful journals. I see some of my students leaving everything they have on a football field, in a gym, or on a track. Some of my students wait on me at Sonic or check my groceries at the local grocery store (working after school to make extra money). A group of students will yell from the top of the stands, “Hey, Mrs. Jennings!” I melt each time and feel blessed just to have had the opportunity to get to know each of them for one brief moment in their ever-so-busy lives.
They will move on, though. I am only one of many teachers spanning their young lives. Some will remember me. Some won’t. The sad fact is that I will have made a difference in some of their lives, but not in others. That, in itself, is a truth that many teachers find difficult coming to terms with. A teacher’s nature, after all, is to want to save the world.
My students keep me young and give me hope for the future. I truly admire them as individuals. Each of them is so unique with varying interests and values. Some students are in the process of still forming both.
I believe in the power of my students.
After all, even though their future is in my hands, mine is in theirs as well.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.