This is my second year as a teacher, but year #10 as an educator. I was a private tutor when I was 16, a preschool/daycare assistant at 18, a substitute teacher at 21, and a teacher at 24. I love my career!
Since the start of the school year in August, I have found myself constantly comparing my new batch of 7th graders to my old ones. I know it’s unfair to do so, but I absolutely love my babies from last year! The new 8th graders were some of my first loves. I gave them nicknames, made them compete for my love (you can still hear the now deep-voiced murmur of “I’m Miss B’s favorite student… Huh, Miss?”), gave them detentions for not doing homework… and they pacified me by giving into my quirky Harry Potter obsession, brought me Starbucks (and flowers, and candy and Oreos), and having the highest amount of growth of all of the middle school grades.
Last year, one of my brightest students received a phone call home from me because had not been doing his homework. I told his mom that he was extremely bright and had tons of potential, but he just needed to apply himself and stop being lazy. The next day, he came to school and asked me, “Miss, my mom told me that you said I had ‘potential.’ Did you say that?” I replied, “Yes, Donald, I did. You’re smart and have lots of potential. You really just have to do your work.” He smiled, and nodded. Ever since then, whenever he would get off task in class, I would joke, “Donald, your potential is being overshadowed by your talking,” and he would get back on task.
Last week, he came up to me in the hallway and showed me a math test. He exclaimed, “Miss, look at all of this potential!” I looked at it. 9/12. I scowled, “But your potential says you can do better.” He smiled and said, “Next time, I’ll bring you an 11.” I corrected him, “No, a 12.” The bell rang and he ran off, and yelled, “You’re gonna see all this potential, Miss. Just watch!”
It took a long time for my students from last year to get to this point of wanting to really impress me. I find it amazing. As it’s only been six weeks of this school year, I’m not panicking that my new students are not there yet. I know that so many of them have the potential, like Donald, but I know that it’ll probably take more than just one positive statement to get them to realize it. I won’t stop until I figure it out, though.