Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Slice 28 - My Life Before...

Slice of Life is sponsored every Tuesday by Stacey and Ruth from Two Writing Teachers. For the month of March we are challenging ourselves to write a Slice A Day.

When I was in school I don’t think I thought about my teachers outside of the classroom. I mean, I didn’t think they lived at school or anything; it just really didn’t occur to me that they might have lives before they were my teacher – and definitely not lives outside of teaching.

As I got older I gradually realized that teachers were regular people – and certainly had a life outside of the walls of their classrooms. I still assumed that they were infallible, likely excellent students who never messed up. I tried hard to do my best, but occasionally got in trouble. I remember always worrying that my mistakes would make my teachers change their opinion about me.

Looking back, I don’t know why I worried so much. My main fault as a student would be that I didn’t work as hard as I should. I loved reading but didn’t push myself in other subjects. Honestly, I didn’t feel as smart as the kids around me. It seemed to take me so much longer than they did to “get” the math assignments. It was easier not to try. But truly – I was a good kid.

Talking to a few students today I mentioned that I had gotten two detentions in middle school. I think they were surprised. I smiled, I don’t know if I ever thought my teachers got in trouble – and in some ways that might be good. We all need role models. Yet, I think we also need to know that we all are fallible. We all make mistakes, but we are not the mistakes we made, we are so much more.

Today, at thirty-nine, I think I am a responsible, hard working, caring person. I am also a person who…

Read during class – every class –
And could hide a book in a desk (or text book) perfectly.

Wrote notes and passed them.
An expert folder.

Gossiped. Said unkind things.
Things I knew were wrong.
And regretted almost immediately.

Received two detentions.
Both for chewing gum.
Both on purpose.
Because the boy I liked…
Had gotten one too.  (Good grief.)

Turned in late work.
Because I forgot.
Or because I didn’t get it.
But didn’t want to admit that.

Was grounded – often.
From TV.
From Friends.
Ordered to get my grades up.
Too stubborn to do that.

I am all those things – and more.

A rule follower,
A rule breaker.

Someone who is a loyal friend,
Someone who has let people down.

A person with a fear of heights,
A person who has bungee jumped off of a ten-story crane.

Someone who believes strongly in the truth.
Someone who has lied.

All humans are complex, and teachers are no different. I know now that those teachers I had probably didn’t think any less of me when I screwed up. More than likely, they just hoped I would realize my mistakes and move forward. Just as I want my students to do.

I go to sleep each night and say a prayer - for my family, for my friends, and for my students. So many of them are on my mind constantly. I worry about them and wonder how I can help. But even when they screw up, one thing stays the same. I absolutely love them. Every single one. I think I need to make sure they know that we all mess-up. Life isn’t defined by our mistakes, it’s what do you do next. What do you learn? How do you move on? Those are the things that interest me.