I’m sure you’ve probably seen the “I Wish My Teacher Knew….” stories floating around the internet. What amazed me most about the idea was the simplicity of it yet the unbelievable depth of information you can gain about people through it. There’s something equally heavy and freeing about knowing these secrets.
Today, I decided to ask my students to write from their heart in Room 117. I wrote the prompt on the board and asked them to fill in the blank with as much or as little as they thought I should know. The room fell silent. For what could very well be the first time all year, every single student turned in writing that was “on topic” today. (Little victories I like to call it.) Some were short and to the point, others were long and filled with details about their lives that few people probably know….and I gather it’s mostly because they simply didn’t ask.
I’m so glad I didn’t do this assignment with my students at the beginning of the year. At this point, I’ve had the opportunity to really get to know them, or so I thought, because I’ve watched them grow from my 6th grade babies into more confident, but still awkward, teenagers ready to tackle the 7th grade. I told them that I wanted to know something that I don’t already know- something that I couldn’t figure out on my own or haven’t already learned. Below are some pictures from their writing today. I thought I’d share them with you so that you could get a glimpse, although very small, into the lives of the students in Room 117.
I literally sat in a dark classroom today and read these letters with an amazing sense of how God cares for His children. What a hard year we’ve had. The death of a classmate, dealing with truancy, bad words, awful behavior, stressful tests, uncomfortable meetings, losing students to other classes, gaining new students from other places, and everything else that’s been thrown our way has made me really have to trust God that I’m where I need to be. This is the toughest job I’ve ever had. Caring for 40+ children from all walks of life is one of the most mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausting journeys I’ve ever walked. Ever. So reading these notes today humbled me. They shed new light on the lives I impact every day. They reassure me that when things seem to be falling apart in my world someone always has it worse. The notes reminded me of the need to pray for these little (and some not so little) people everyday.
So, next time you read one of my blogs about Room 117, or see me at church or around town, I pray that you’ll remember us. Remember to pray for the kids whose stories have helped shape mine. Remember to take the time to listen to others’ stories and share your own. They have such a way of getting us back to where we truly should be.