#SOL15: Day 12, Seeing Our Students in the Mirror

Reading Aileen Hower’s blog this month has been a treat. She is writing slices through her son’s eyes. Jacob sees things differently.  He has Asperger’s.

When I started reading it, I expected to see glimpses of my students in him. And I do. But I didn’t expect to I see myself in Jacob. Many of the things he thinks, are things I think. His worries are similar to mine. The more I read, the more I see him as a mirror, not a window.

I was thinking about this as I was running yesterday.

With each step, I bounced

from one idea

to the next.

It’s maddening

and exciting.

I look forward to running because of this.

The trouble is

I can’t

hold on to

my thoughts.

They are like

beautiful bubbles


pop in mid air.

All of a sudden it hits me.

My ADHD self has surfaced.

My unfocused and

hyperactive self.

I had never seen myself in this light. But for this brief moment, I realize it. I get a charge out of lots of ideas. I do best when I’m moving.  I’m happiest in those moments.

Later that day when N bounced around the room, I connected.  I felt his need for the next thing, the need to move. The inability to keep the next thought from jumping in and crowding out what was there. I saw in me what I saw in my student. I am (in some ways) this student.

Seeing our students in ourselves is fascinating, enlightening and essential. It’s more than walking in their shoes. It’s realizing your inherent similarities. On some level, they are you; you are them. The differences we see might be the ability to put on a mask of acceptability.


Thanks to Anna, Beth, Betsy, Dana, Stacey and Tara of Two Writing Teachers blog for hosting the Slice of Life March Story Challenge. Read other bloggers slices here.




24 thoughts on “#SOL15: Day 12, Seeing Our Students in the Mirror

  1. I LOVE this. Thank you for sharing and I love how you wove that “all over the place” poem in. I have a girl in my class like this and her mind is all over the place too. Maybe I will read her your poem. Thanks!

  2. I agree with Anita!!! That poem about running and holding onto thoughts…I get that too!! Amazing. Your post reminds me of something Fr. Gregory Boyle says in his book…(I’m paraphrasing) He says it’s not just about service, it’s about kinship & compassion. Julieanne, you find a kinship with your students and that makes you a compassionate, dedicated and gifted teacher!!!

  3. I love your bouncy poem, the visual helps us not only hear but see your thoughts. When we see ourselves in our students, it can be disconcerting, too. Like seeing yourself in your own children, mistakes and all.

  4. Wishing many teachers would see this, Juieanne: “The differences we see might be the ability to put on a mask of acceptability.” I have students who stand and work a lot of the time. Luckily the way we work at school works well for them, too. During work time, they are free to make the situation fit well for them. Love that you discovered this connection between yourself & your student. Now what?

  5. I was thinking – seeing ourselves means like “warts and all” so not always pretty. I think your last sentence is SO important! “The differences we see might be the ability to put on a mask of acceptability.” How does that mask of acceptability work for some students and not for others? ❤

  6. This is why you are able to connect to students and be the difference for them during this year. You reflect and make discoveries through your reflections which enables you to guide them. I, too, loved your poem, the format was perfect.

  7. What insight! The ability to look at the truth is so necessary for growth and connection. I can hear you so clearly in your words. And you’re running again! 😊

  8. I am so touched. Tears in my eyes. Thank you for reading – really reading. There is a lot of what the Asperger’s brain does that is similar to the ADHD brain. In fact, I’ve read that for every child after the first with autism, there is a 50/50 chance of having a second child with autism. More surprisingly, in the 50% that does not, 80% will develop ADHD. Hence, my second son. He is such a different kid; I’ve had to be such a different parent. But there are some similarities that I have noticed. Your poem and post are beautiful. You’ve made my entire day, even week! Thank you.

    • So interesting. I had no idea of the statistics. You have a challenging job as a parent. One that makes you a great teacher and writer. I so hope your posts get a wider audience. Teachers and parents and kids need to see it!

  9. It’s interesting that as a parent seeing my boys as different, but definite mirrors of myself came naturally. My younger who mirrors my enjoyment of writing, but in his own unique style actually helped me to define and improve my own style. My older quickly showed my own quick temper and both had to learn how the well, temper it. Mirrors are definitely the better analogy. You want to see them, not just look at or through them.

    • When I wrote this I wasn’t thinking of my own kids. But you are right. I do this all the time with my kids. So interesting how your son has molded you a bit!

  10. What a wonderful way to take us with you on your run and then into a mind of a student. From inspiration, to you, to your student. Perfect…

  11. How powerful is this! Loved your thoughts, your poem, your revelations. Empathy is so needed for us all. There but for the grace of God go I – we need to exist in another’s shoes.

  12. Love these lines: It’s realizing your inherent similarities. “On some level, they are you; you are them. ”
    That’s the heart of the connection we can make – if we want to.

  13. This is so insightful, Julieanne. Realizing our “inherent similarities” is essential if we’re going to really connect with others. I love your poem, and often feel the same way, my thoughts “beautiful bubbles that pop in mid-air.” Thank goodness they don’t all float away!

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