Classes started for the kiddos in my school district this week. You know what that means, right? It means that students packed their bags with new school supplies. It means that schedules were shared through Snapchat and Instagram to see who had classes and lunch periods together. It means that my Facebook newsfeed was flooded with the obligatory Back to School photos, which- I have to admit- I absolutely LOVE to see! Maybe I’m weird, but I look forward to seeing these pics every year. The smiles that say Take the Picture Already, Mom. The smiles that show nervousness just beneath those lips. The I’m Too Cool pose with no grin at all. I even saw a couple of videos that showed teenagers pulling out of the driveways as they headed to school for the first day.
You know what the first week of school means for teachers? It means that the emotions are high. The expectations are high. The physical activity level is high. It means the exhaustion is over the top! It also means the love is strong.
Those new students are coming at me with hope. They hope that I’m going to be there when they need me. They hope that I’m going to show them how to read and write a little better. They hope that I’ll listen to them. They hope that I’ll respect them as individuals. They hope that I’ll take my time with them when they struggle. They hope that I’ll have a snack in my closet when they have no breakfast. They hope that I’ll look at that cut on their hand and offer a bandage. They hope that I’ll understand when they tell me that they are tired because they share a bed with a sibling who kept them up all night. They hope that I’ll see that their crappy behavior choices aren’t really who they are underneath. They hope that I’ll love them- no matter what.
And, you know what? I will. That’s my job. Yes, I know I’m supposed to teach reading and writing. I’ll do that, too. I just see my classroom in a different way. I’m not supposed to just teach reading and writing. I’m supposed to be the hope. I’m supposed to be the model of positivity. I’m supposed to show my students how to get back up when life knocks you down. I’m supposed to show them how to find answers when they are confused. I’m supposed to let them see who they can be when they put in the hard work.
The Art teacher at our middle school has painted many different murals on our walls to represent all of the different kids at school. The artsy kids. The sporty kids. The kids who love Science and Math. The kids who enjoy reading. There’s a painting on the wall of many schools. I’m not sure where it started. I’ve seen it in many Facebook posts.
This is probably the most important thing she has painted on our walls. The last line says it all:
Be the nice kid!
Let’s take that one step further. Isn’t this something we should all strive for – whether we’re the student, the teacher, the coach, the principal, the librarian, the cook, the custodian, the secretary, the human being?