Today, my students researched and created a college plan. This continues to fall under our unit of “dreaming and achieving”. The unit has been great and my students are beginning to realize that their dreams are not a joke, but a true possibility that can become a reality. I had one student today tell me in a quiet voice, “But, Mrs. Farmer, none of my family has ever been to college.” I looked at him and said, “Well, you will be the first then.” His eyes widened, and a sense of pride came over his face.
The world today is very different in some ways than from the one that I knew growing up, but then the same, too. My teachers often told me that achievement was possible. As a student, I heard this the most in elementary school. My teachers were so loving and nurturing. Those years are very special to me. I do remember the tide beginning to shift in middle school, however. My teachers moods were all over the place. Some had great classroom control and others did not. The thing I remember the most from middle school though was seeing and hearing the teachers pointing and talking about the students from the lunch tables. That used to make me so angry as a student. They would look over with critical scowls on their faces, and I would wince under their disapproving glances. I’ll say all and all I was a good kid, but we all have our moments. In the end, it truly hurt my heart to ever hear a teacher talk badly about me or one of my fellow students, because in my heart I felt that they were called to teach, and to support us to be better people, almost as a parent would.
Now, as a middle grades teacher, I do think it is ok to vent every once in a while, and if something is really heavy on a person’s heart, it can be so comforting to find that right person to talk to and be encouraged by. The danger lies when we, as teachers seeking excellence, focus on how things are not going to work, how success is impossible, or how situations cannot be overcome that we begin to fall short of our calling.
Middle grades are tough, tough years for our students. Today, I watched a TED Talk by Liz Murray, a young woman who overcame a terrible childhood to succeed and graduate from Harvard. Her life really began to fall apart when she turned about thirteen years old. Through her own perseverance, she succeeded, which is phenomenal. However, many of our students facing similar situations on various spectrums do not know how to persevere. That is why we must remember to meet the kids where they are, and help them in any way we can so that they will achieve.
This can begin by just being positive, knowing that our students have a world of possibilities in front of them, and try our best with absolute fortitude not to label them negatively. They all have possibility, and they all have dreams. A big part of our job is to lead them there, and never give up. As the school year winds down, I will make a vow to stay positive to the end, and help my students fall in love with the great opportunities that lie before them!
~ You’ve done it before and you can do it now. See the positive possibilities. Redirect the substantial energy of your frustration and turn it into positive, effective, unstoppable determination.~