On Wednesday, August 14, I formally began my 19th year as an educator. That first day back with students is always one of mixed emotions. I have always believed that the best part of my job is my students. I have also always known that my strength as an educator comes in the ability that I have to connect to and create relationships with the young people that I spend my days with.
Being a new face to my school last year, I learned that unlike in previous years, there was a larger learning curve…my students were slow to trust, slow to let me in, slow to accept me. I never struggled in those small ways the way I did last year. Honestly, it was my birthday last year, late November, that I really felt that most of my students saw me as a person, a human, more than just another face in the revolving door of “teachers” in their lives. The way my students showed me love and appreciation on my birthday was absolutely overwhelming.
When I graduated the class of 2019, it was amid lots of tears for me. I love those humans. They loved me and laughed with me, and in ways were my absolute survival in my great Houston adventure. The ways we each risked and grew with each other, the ways we trusted and tested, and came thru to the other side.
So, when Wednesday rolled around, I was apprehensive about how I was going to fit with the Class of 2020. There were so many times I stepped into the hall on Wednesday and looked at the faces, hoping to see familiar ones, to hear the calls of “Miss” in familiar voices. And as Wednesday moved along, in a blur of names and faces, and who am I’s and why I teach on repeat…I just kept telling myself that I would be okay.
Then Thursday came, and felt like a teacher win. Almost all of my students, in each section, had completed their homework from Wednesday. We engaged in amazing conversations about WHY we needed to study this tough subject, what their investment could be, and my own vulnerability of admitting to these amazing black and brown humans that I recognize my privilege and will do what I can to be their ally in this fight for social justice.
As Thursday ended, one of my new seniors asked to talk to me, and admitted to me they had taken a picture of me during class. Their impetus in catching the moment…they had never seen their classmates so engaged in a class, in listening so intently to a teacher…and they wanted me to know how it had impacted them. And I can’t even express…that moment, my heart swelled…and my eyes filled. To hear that, just 24 hours into this new year..my joy. My passion. My heart. Is evident to these students.
The icing on the cake was the two iced teas, and pancakes from McDonalds that started my day on Friday, along with several notes from my new seniors that included me in their things I should know about them. Some days, you got it…and I’m starting year 19 with a happy heart, full of love and joy.
As a side note…I am incredibly grateful for the heart full of love and the visits that I got from my 2019 seniors in the last few days. Their messages, phone calls, visits…all potent and powerful reminders of what it means to be so loved.
I am forever grateful. Here’s to making 19 the best year yet. Teach on…