What Students Have Taught Me

When I began to teach, I learned quickly that things were sometimes not as they seemed. I learned that when a student falls asleep, it might be because the student was tired, not bored, not disrespectful, just plain tired. It was because they didn’t get to sleep, you know, like a missed opportunity. I learned that some students worked at jobs after school. I learned that some students lived in situations that were not healthy. I learned that some students had great parents. And, that some didn’t. I also learned that if I read the test questions to a student who seemed to have a reading problem, the student usually knew the answer. I didn’t know about dyslexia at the time. I just knew that the student knew the answer and I thought he couldn’t read. So, I read to him.

I also learned that some students didn’t live with their own family. Some were in foster care. Sometimes a student might live with a boyfriend. Some were living away from home because the home was uninhabitable. But, interestingly, they still all came to school.

So, I learned to try to look past the surface. I wanted to find a way to see the student as the person, not as anything other than who they truly were. I looked for ways to make school fun. I will always believe that a person learns more if they are having fun, if they are enjoying themselves.

Sometimes when I saw a student’s head on the desk, I would ask the student if they were okay. Then, I let them sleep. I’m pretty sure there are a lot of teachers who would do that. I can hear a teacher reading this and saying, “Yes, I’ve done that.”

But, I also tried to do what was best.

I coached volleyball. I loved it. I was fortunate enough to start a program. We were all beginners, the players and me. When I took the job, my principal told me that my job was to have a winning team. He didn’t tell me that we were supposed to have fun. It was the goal of a varsity team to win. So, I tried to do that. It wasn’t always easy because my players didn’t know what the principal had said to me. They wanted to win because it seemed like the right thing to do. And, they always seemed to play their hearts out. Oh…my…gosh. But, not all players understood that we were playing to win. Some thought volleyball was a club that they could “join.” I never quite understood that. It wasn’t a club. It was a competitive team. Still, it was new and not everyone understood the goal. And, in the back of my mind, I still just wanted to have fun. Oh, and a side note – the program I started – has won 10 state championships. The players have been and are continuing to be phenomenal. And, it does all go back to that, the players, the students.

The memories I have of what students have said to me over the time that I coached would probably fill a book. It was great. Well, most of the time. One student used to call me “Ma’am” and I loved it. One told me “I did just what you told me to do.” This was after she had made a perfect approach and killed the ball. I was thrilled. They actual listened. To me. What an honor. They demonstrated respect at every turn. I loved my players! I loved my students! Ok. So, I have a lot of love in my heart. Just imagine if you are my really good friend…well, kind of like all my students.

I cannot have had a better teaching career. I taught students from kindergarten through college level. How blessed I have been. And, it was fun. Way too much fun. Can you imagine living your life and just having enormous amounts of fun. Well, that’s my teaching life. – FUN. But, it is all because of who I was able to teach – those darn students, and I do love them all. Every single one!!

I could go on and on but I promised myself that I would only write short narratives. So, I’ll skip the part about where the students pushed me into the pool and, no, I was not in a swimming suit.

And, then, I started teaching teachers…yes, that is an entirely different story. And, yes, it is filled with fun…

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