I realize I say this about ALL of my guest posts, but today? Today you get to read a little something by Miranda of Not Super...Just Mom. Y'all? (as she would say)...She is like my twin. In fact, we call each other "etwin". She is a fellow snark-a-licious English teacher. She is a momma of a wee little man with curly blond hair. She is a fellow PPD survivor. And she is battling the same weight issues I am! If we weren't a zillion states apart? We would be besties in a heartbeat.
She was one of the FIRST people I had on my list to ask to do this since she is just like I am as a teacher. She LOVES her students, is passionate about her calling, and tells it like it is. Oh, and? She takes no shiz from anyone.
Puh-LEASE go read this post about how she deals with shananagins in her class. Girl after my own heart, I tell ya! And then follow her on twitter. And then come back and read what she has to say here....
When Katie asked me to write for her Back to School Bonanza, I was all “WOOHOO! YES!” and then I forgot that I was all “WOOHOO! YES!” until I saw a tweet from her that said something along the lines of “I’m so excited for my Back to School Guest Bloggers” and then I sheepishly asked if I was supposed to write something for her.
Let’s just go ahead and lay it all out there. I’m probably the most disorganized person you’ve ever met in your life. “Organized chaos” has given way to just straight “chaos.” I live by shuffling piles around from spot to spot. It makes me appear productive without actually getting anything done. Unfortunately, after having a child, it appears my brain has started doing the same thing with important information—it all just gets shuffled around. And then my brain can’t find it anymore. So, thanks, Katie, for having me even though I forgot.
Where were we? Oh yeah…Back to School.
Once I remembered I was supposed to write this post, I started and stopped about 15 times. I mean, Katie is awesome, so I can’t let her down.
I thought, and thought, and thought, and thought, and then one day it hit me while I was shampooing my hair.
Allow me to tell you a story—no, not about me in the shower—about my first day of high school.
I cried. Promise.
Real, crocodile tears.
I was terrified that high school was going to be more of the same from middle school—me being called “Mooooranda” and kids making farm noises at me as I walked down the halls. Me, being opinionated despite the bullying, saying what was on my mind because that was the one thing I knew how to do.
(The mooing stopped, I’m happy to report. Probably because I’d gotten boobs so the boys were too busy looking at those to remember my name.)
I vividly remember walking into Spanish class on the first day of school. Vividly. There were piñatas and sombreros and pictures and foreign words hanging up in our tiny, cramped little room where two of the walls were breakaway partitions. I remember looking around and knowing only two people in that class. I remember the teacher, Senora, walking in shortly after the bell rang and speaking no English.
I remember freaking out because I could not understand a word she was saying and I was a straight A student and I had to make an A or my life would be over and I would never get into college and I had to go to college because it would be a really really big deal and I could not understand her and OH MY GOD I MUST MAKE AN A.
And then she walked to the front of the room and took a seat on her stool and she smiled back at us and we stared at her with the shocked look that only first-timers in a foreign language class can have.
I don’t remember much of the rest of what she said. I’m sure it was the usual pleasantries that I share with my own students now that I’m a teacher. The “Hello, my name is…” and the “Here’s what we’ll do in this class…”.
But one thing she said that day has always stuck with me, has become an integral part of my own teaching.
“If you walk out of this classroom at the end of the year and you can’t speak a word of Spanish, I hope I’ve taught you life lessons.”
In a day and time when we’re stuck on the numbers, the tests, that apparently prove our worth as educators, students, an entire system, her approach seems a novel one to me.
TEACH LIFE LESSONS.
The lessons I learned in her class were tolerance for others, patience with others, and the real words to the song “La Bamba.”
(Yes, I’m serious. It’s about a man who is not a marine/sailor but will be one if that’s what his woman wants.)
She taught me how to be a teacher and a friend to my students. Her example helped me be a trusted adult for my students when they need someone to talk to. When they don’t have anywhere else to turn.
If students leave my class at the end of a year and they cannot tell me the difference between a simile and a metaphor but they know that they are capable of success and greatness, I’ve done my job. If they understand that it’s possible for people to coexist in this world and not agree on everything, if their eyes are opened to the plight of others less fortunate than themselves, if they see that someone out there DOES care about them, I’m good.
I can’t ask for more than that.
And just so you know, I totally got an A.