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At the end of the last day before Thanksgiving Break, as I shuffled the kids out of the classroom, “Kevin” turned around and said to me, “I want to switch homerooms. I don’t like this class.” He paused and then he added, “And I don’t like you.”
I locked up my door thinking, “Well, that hurt.”
Like most teachers, I tell myself that I am not there to be anyone’s friend. But also like most, I don’t really want to be a child’s least favorite teacher either.
Earlier in the day, I had asked the kids to write on an index card about the things they were grateful for this year. This boy had written, “I’m thankful for my four great teachers who help me learn.”
The only thing is the boy has FIVE teachers.
The veteran teacher in me said, “Let it go.” The aging human inside of me could not.
I did not even want to read the rest of the 150 cards in my bag. I got home and threw the bag on the living room floor.
Finally, late the next day, I pulled out the stack to read and grade. I am glad I did so.
There were several kids who had written, “I’m grateful for Mr. Ramsey.” Some explained: “He makes me laugh…he helps me learn…he makes me feel better.”
Again, my kids were teaching me a lesson or two:
- We never know how we help those with whom we interact.
- We must persevere and continue trying to help all whom are placed in our lives.
- There is more happiness in the world than despair. We need to focus more on the good.
- We do not need the approval of others to be happy.
- We cannot be everything for all. We can only do our best to be there for those who are ready for our help.
“Kevin” is like so many other children in my school. He has been hurt emotionally and, even possibly, physically in his short life. He is in survival mode…and, for now, he is pretty low on caring for others.
I cannot go back and amend his past. I can only be there for him in his present – whether he likes me or not.
In addition, I need to be there for so many others as well. I may not be able to give everything for all. But that doesn’t mean I can’t try.
After all, I AM a teacher.
Copyright, Tim Ramsey, 2019.
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