Month: September 2016

JUST a teacher…

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I just began my seventh year of teaching and I must say that it is one of the most difficult, exhausting and wonderful jobs in the world.  During my years, I have taught a wide variety of students.  I have learned a lot teaching.  I have made very many mistakes.  But what I do well, very well in fact, is foster meaningful, authentic relationships with my students.  They see that I genuinely care about them.  My classroom has become a home away from home for some kids and the only place where they feel at home for others.

Yesterday, I was reminded of just how much the latter is true.  Before I continue with this story, I would like to point out that I teach theatre and there are about 35 students from each grade that I get to have their entire middle school career, unlike core teachers who only have the opportunity to teach them for one school year.  I recognize that I get to have a unique relationship with my students because of that.

After one of my classes I had a student approach me.

“Ms. Miller, can I talk to you privately?”

The wringing of her hands told me that she was nervous and so we stepped inside my office.  I had no idea what could be so wrong only 8 days into the school year and with a student who is never in any trouble.

“My mom is very religious… and strict and… she holds very strict beliefs about this kind of thing.  I could never say anything to her… but I had to tell someone… and…well..  I just wanted to tell you that I am bisexual.”

She is now looking at me with her big, round eyes worried about what my reaction may be.  I gave her a hug and thanked her for choosing me to help lift the burden of keeping it a secret.  I reassured her that I would not treat her any differently and that there is absolutely nothing wrong with her.  The tears falling down her cheeks had my throat tight with emotion.  I asked her if she felt better now.

“Oh my gosh!  So much better.  Thank you so much.”

And she went on to her other classes.  Today she came into class a little brighter, happier and more confident.   I have had students find themselves in my class.  I have had a student tell me that he was about to be jumped into a gang but he no longer wanted that lifestyle.  I have had a student use my class as her escape from a troubled home life with a parent dealing with addiction.  I have had a student come to me and lift up her sleeves to show me the self-induced cuts on their arms and tell me that they wanted help.

All of this is just a reminder that these children we teach, that we have so much influence on, look to us sometime for guidance, acceptance, love, and truth.  Don’t miss the opportunity to be that to someone.

As we embark on this school year, know that our children are coming to us with more than back-to-school supplies.  Always remember that we are interacting daily with human beings trying to figure out how to navigate a world that doesn’t see them as whole yet.  As teachers, we may be the only consistence force in their lives, the only example of love, and the only beacon of hope.

Let’s continue to touch and change lives.

Artwork by art teacher, Joy Chandler