Monday, January 18, 2016

Trying to be the best that someone else SHOULD be

Teens overall are pretty self-centered, so expecting any appreciation or even useful feedback from them tends to be an exercise in frustration.  Most teachers know not to expect any acknowledgement from their students for their hard work and dedication.   

I’m always surprised, then, when students go out of their way to thank me or tell me they’ll miss me at the end of the school year.  Truthfully, in my mind I’m thinking “Yeah, right” every time a student says he or she will miss me, or this was his or her favorite class.  I think students just feel sentimental at the end of the year.

Last year, though, a student brought me a box of chocolates, a note, and a whole lot of emotion.  Sarina was a pretty good student in my freshman writing class, but she’s not an overly expressive person.  She set the bag on my desk and then burst into tears.

“What’s wrong?” I asked, alarmed. 

She shook her head and wiped her eyes.  “This is for you, Ms. Marlowe,” she said with a sniff.

“Oh, thank you,” I said.  Feeling awkward, I grabbed some tissue and handed it to her.  “Are you all right?”

“I’m so sad that you’re leaving,” she said.  “I signed up for Newspaper next year because it’s your class, but now you aren’t coming back.”

I turned in my resignation a month earlier because I felt that three years in a crappy school was enough to make me look stable.  I was leaving in search of more money and less disorganization.  I’d told students I wasn’t coming back, but also told them that it was because I was moving away, which was true.  I was moving, but not far enough to justify not returning to the school.

“I would have loved to have you in Newspaper, Sarina,” I said, putting my hand on her arm.  “You would have been great.”  My heart swelled, and I wanted to hug her.  The angels were singing and telling me that THIS was why I teach, to make a difference in students' lives!

She nodded, still wiping her eyes.  “You and Mr. Cooper are my favorite teachers, and both of you are leaving!  I’ll miss you so much!”

And that's when the bubble suddenly burst.  I pasted what I hoped looked like a pleased smile on my face as she walked out.

Mr. COOPER?  That jerk who texts his friends and other teachers during his lessons?  The one who flirts inappropriately with his female students, who was reportedly caught by the principal getting “serviced” in the school parking lot by the receptionist after a soccer game?  I’m on par with Mr. "God's mediocre gift to humanity" Cooper?  

This better be good candy that she gave me.  At the very least, it better be better than whatever she gave Mr. Cooper.