Those Students Who Just Make You....Smile
Have you ever just been so impressed and inspired by some of the students or athletes you come across as a teacher or coach? Every year of my career as an educator so far, I find myself sitting back and smiling after a conversation with a student and considering myself lucky to be a small part of what I know will be their amazing life story. As I’m welcoming students into this new school year, I’m finding that this year will be no exception. It truly is humbling to sit back and consider the entirety of the lives of all of the students in your class and to consider their collective experiences.
I teach high school in the virtual arena and, due to the nature of our school setting, many of our students attend because the flexibility of online school allows them to pursue amazing things while still earning their high school diplomas. I’ve gotten to know students who are already recording artists, working actors, actresses and models, athletes who compete on the world stage, students who have started their own companies, students living on the other side of the world because of their parent’s work assignments, and countless other exciting life stories. I’ve gotten to work with students who have immigrated to our country as young children and what that experience was like. Just last year, I had an amazing conversation with a student whose family fled Cuba when she was a young child on a makeshift raft with nothing but the clothes on their backs in hopes of a better life here in America. Today’s conversations included a girl who moved here from Japan in 3rd grade and now speaks perfect English, a girl who is a competitive figure skater and a young man who performs in ballet productions around the state.
I love that my work puts me in the life paths of these students and that I get to know them as individuals. They inspire me, they humble me, and they make me want to think big and hope that my own children do as well. They make me proud to teach them and let them teach me in return. That’s the stuff that isn’t a line item on our teacher paychecks, but is the most valuable part of the job.
Share your stories in the comments! I’d love to hear about those students who just stick with you and make you smile…even long after they’ve left your class or classroom! It’s a great way to celebrate the dawn of a new school year!
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