Slice of Life: This is What I Want

I’ve been thinking a lot about what my students have gotten out of this school year.  Maybe it’s because year end’s in sight. Or maybe it’s because I’ve had some time to read, think and write. Or maybe it’s because some students are struggling with life and school, and I’m at a loss.

Probably because of all of these reasons, I’ve been thinking about bottom lines. What are students walking out the door holding on to? Are they gonna be ok, taking the next step? Are they ready?

I’ve asked these same kinds of questions about my own children.

While I’m not sure of the answers, this is what I want:

I want them to walk on knowing that they are seen. That the world has space for them and that they are entitled to be there. That they are a part of a community that needs them, and that they need to contribute by doing what they can. That trying is hard, but if they keep trying they will move. That doing well on a test is just that, doing well on a test, nothing more. That what matters is that you come every day and expect something of yourself.

I might forget these ideas in my mission to teach the concepts, the skills, the strategies. I might forget this in my desire to fix, to challenge, to grow.

I might forget that the most unforgettable thing I could give a student is the knowledge that I see them, that I care about them, and that I honor them – what they think and who they are.

I was listening to a podcast with Father Gregory Boyle, the founder of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles and author of Tattoos on the Heart. While my kiddos aren’t as tough as Luis, nor am I as saintly as Father Boyle, the conversation made me laugh and think about the feelings I have toward my students and how they might think of me.

I said, ‘You know, Luis, I’m proud to know you, and my life is richer because you came into it, and when you were born, the world became a better place, and I’m proud to call you my son. Even though’ — and I don’t know why I decided to add this part — ‘at times, you can really be a huge pain in the ass.’

In response, Luis looked up at me and said, “The feeling’s mutual.”

Maybe I returned him to himself, but there is no doubt that he’s returned me to myself.

If we value our students for who they are and where they are, we are right there beside them.

That is what I hope they walk away with.

This is what I want.

11454297503_e27946e4ff_hGlad to be back to the slicing world.

Thank you, Two Writing Teachers for hosting the Slice of Life on Tuesdays. Read more slices here.

11 thoughts on “Slice of Life: This is What I Want

  1. “I want them to walk on knowing that they are seen.” Mmm…

    “If we value our students for who they are and where they are, we are right there beside them.” Mmm…

    Wonderful post.

  2. Ah, the end of year is drawing close and I have been doing some reflecting too. I like your thoughts on what you hope that they will take away. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I have NO doubt that your students will walk away feeling valued, loved, and seen!! You work so hard on really SEEing them for who they are…it’s such a gift you give to them. So glad to be back on Tuesdays! 🙂

  4. I just heard an interview with him on “On Being” on NPR and laughed at that part, but also reflected on the kids in my class who are just like Luis. They would probably give Luis’ answer, too.

  5. At the end of any journey, we have to consider what we take with us. Your kids will take the memory of the year they got to be passionate about something that mattered to them. They will remember that teacher and the books she read and how they felt. They were seen, at least for one year. You touch many with your words.

  6. Love this piece for so many reasons. Love your voice and message. I love the line: I want them to walk on knowing that they are seen. This is so powerful. In our fast-paced, race to the top world, I do worry that we are not seeing the humans sitting in front of us. Children are human – messy, unpredictable, sensitive and wonderful. We need to stop and see all of it and let them know they are seen and appreciated. Thank you — your words will stay with me.

  7. Julieanne,
    I love that you can always keep me grounded. I’m off thinking about this instruction or that demo or how to “nuts and bolts” something and you ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS
    put the kiddos first.

    Never you,
    Always them,
    Was it enough?
    Too much?
    Too little?
    Never resting,
    Always searching . . .
    Just one more try
    To reach that oh, so hard one!

  8. I see you.
    I care about you.
    I honor you.
    Valuable words for anyone to put into their pocket closest to the heart.

  9. I am quite sure that all of your students know that you see them. While I’ve never set foot in your classroom, I can tell this from your writing and from meeting you back in November. They know, Julieanne. They know.

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