And just like that…we’re back.
This morning, it’s back to school and therefore, for me, it’s back to the blog. I took a mental vacation from everything school-related this week. No Twitter, no blogging, no reading others’ blogs. I focused on myself instead. Can’t blame my students if they did the same.
The NYS English Language Arts test begins tomorrow (with rounds two and three coming the following two days). Despite that, I’m kicking off my return to blogging and school with a nice story from right before the break. Surely, by the end of today, testing will be the only topic on our minds, but I want to share something positive and exciting that’s been on my mind all week!
The Thursday we went on break, I wanted little more than to just get out of school and go home. I was required to be at school an extra two hours, however, because I teach after school. So by the time I dismissed the after school kids, you can be sure I was on the verge of a crabbiness that threatened to sully my otherwise cheerful demeanor. Why were the parents so late? Didn’t they know we had a vacation to start?
As these surly thoughts were throbbing against my skull, I heard my name called from across the yard, and bounding through the crowd of teachers, students, and parents came a gawky-looking teenager who I couldn’t immediately place as someone I might know. As he drew nearer, though, I could see behind the oversized glasses and braces and underneath the closely shaved head that it was not only one of my former fifth graders, but indeed, one of my greatest success stories.
When this young man was in fourth grade, he was made to visit my room (via the walk of shame) a multitude of times. Each time he came in with a purpose, sometimes expressed by his teacher: “He needs to refocus.” Who was I to deny? I welcomed him each time and each time he returned to his room “refocused” (and maybe not feeling quite as horrible about himself).
The next year, I was elated that this guy was on my register. Unfortunately, several days passed and he didn’t show up for school. I was very disappointed because he and I had struck up a rapport the previous year and I knew he was going to flourish in my room.
I had just given up hope after marking him absent for the umpteenth time when an assistant principal appeared at my door, seemingly displeased, with the young man in tow. A singsongy “Good luuuuuuuck” was wished, and I hastily arranged a makeshift desk for the boy, quite glad to be inconvenienced by his arrival. (I gave him a hearty pat on the back as he entered).
When he approached me last week, this memory came back to me. He truly was a favorite student and I reflect on his growth with quite a bit of pride. As we conversed, I was impressed by the purpose and politeness of his speech. He wanted to reminisce, asking me to remind him of the names of the teachers around us. I also wanted to reminisce, and the friends accompanying him offered me the opportunity.
Friend 1: “He always got in so much trouble.”
Friend 2: “He had to leave the room every day.”
Former student: “The assistant principals always used to yell at me.”
Me: “Ha, you never had to leave my room.”
Former student: “That’s right.”
Friends 1 and 2: “REALLY!?”
Me: “Of course. He was an excellent student, one of my best ever.”
Friends 1 and 2: “REALLY!?”
You get the picture. And I’m glad I got a picture of this guy as a middle schooler. I’ll allow myself the belief that I must have done something right with him. I’m thrilled he gave me the opportunity.