Driving to school on Wednesday, I saw a shooting star. You don't see that every day...so, I made a wish that the rest of the week would be better than the first couple of days (which were hectic and overwhelming). Apparently, my wish came true! I came home last night feeling like I was on a "high" after a fulfilling first full week of school. It seems like I have some great students, and I am excited to get to know them better and hopefully make a difference in their lives. That is the coolest part of my profession...I really have the opportunity to reach out to all sorts of kids and make them feel special. Whenever I feel like I am making a difference to my students, I love my job. Unfortunately, more often than not, it's hard to tell whether or not I am making a difference--so often, the kids seem bored, or they won't do their work, or I am exhausted and annoyed. It is my goal this year to try to love my job every day and focus on all the good I see in my students.
Here are some of the "highlight" moments from my week:
-One of the bulletin boards in my classroom is devoted to reading. In addition to some cute Mary Englebreit posters, I have a list of all the books I read this summer, as well as all the books I'd like to read. At the bottom of the bulletin board there is a sign: "If you have any book suggestions, please let me know!" Well, in my three years of teaching, a student has never approached me to recommend a book. For the most part teenagers are too cool to read, let alone to recommend books to their teachers. This week, one of my sweet, dorky boys came up to me after class to recommend two Gary Paulsen books. He said, "I saw the note on the bulletin board, so I thought I'd let you know." I don't know why, but it totally made my week. It's so easy to forget how many good kids there are in this world. He is new to the school, and it seems like he feels out of place--but I am excited to read his books and talk to him about them--hopefully to help him feel comfortable and loved.
-Along the same lines, I had another surprising "reading" moment this week when one of my 12th graders approached me and told me that she read 96 novels this summer. WHAT??!!! She read more than one a day! I was proud of reading 11 books this summer--and she put me to shame. She is a really spunky, fun girl who speaks her mind in class and stays after school to talk to me about what she's been reading. Students like her make my job FUN.
-The best moment of my week was when I was approached by one of my former students who asked me to write him a letter of recommendation for college. When I told him "Of course!" he broke into a huge smile and told me that I was one of the only teachers who had ever believed in him and made him feel smart. (He is one of my special education students who has always struggled with reading and writing.) He told me that because he felt comfortable in my classroom, he was willing to raise his hand and contribute his ideas to discussion, and he was willing to come and get extra help on his papers after school, which really helped his abilities improve. He went on to say, "Mrs. Nielson, I want to go to college. My mom and my dad didn't, and my mom thinks that I should work for a few years first or just go to ECC, but I want to go to a four-year university and get a real degree and make something of my life." I was so proud of him. All of the long days teaching and the long nights planning, all of the hours spent grading essays and preparing lessons that the students don't even seem to enjoy...all of the stress, frustration, even anger that I sometimes feel in this job...it is all so worth it when I hear a student say that he learned something from me.
I love my job!