The Lives I’ve Read
Recently, a lot of people, including Barack Obama, have been sharing reading lists from 2017. This got me thinking about what my reading list would look like. This past year I read Fahrenheit 451, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, a couple books by Peter Haas, and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.
Don’t judge, but this year was the fist time I read book one of the Harry Potter series. I read some other things too, but as a teacher of 120-135 kids per year, most of my reading is the work of my students.
My Dual Enrollment English students write 10-12 essays in a year. I have 90 DE kids this year (the rest of my students are Mentorship 9 kids). That means I will have read 900-1,080 essays by the end of the school year. Each student writes about an average of 4.1 pages per essay. That means I read 3,690-4,428 pages of student writing in a school year. I also provide feedback and editing tips. This might explain why I never feel like I have time! It also explains why I feel so invested in my students.
I am in awe of the skill of many renowned authors, but my favorite words are the ones that give me a glimpse into the hearts and minds of the lives I teach every day. Many of my students will never understand how much I care or the impact they have on me.
Let me tell you a little about the graduating class of 2018.
They are opinionated, caring, strong, resilient, weak, hurt children, who are almost adults. Their stories are unique and the same. I have read the depressed, anxious, accomplished, athletic, artistic, musical, theatrical, brave, raped, homeless, neglected, misunderstood, abandoned, creative, determined, and abused.
Some of them are ready to conquer the world, and other’s can barely get themselves to school each day.
I don’t read stories. I read living, breathing, individuals who walk into my classroom.
I know who almost committed suicide, who is a hopeless romantic, who loves football, who hates food, who wants to help people with Alzheimer’s, who was freezing in a car watching his mom cry because they had no place to go, who learned how to be brave by crossing a treacherous bridge, and who struggles to make it out of bed in the morning.
I read them. I teach them. I love them in all their complicated and messy ways. I love them as a whole, and I love them as individuals. I love them for all that I know, and for all that I don’t know.
Teaching is an honor and a challenge that so few truly understand. According to research, teachers make about 1,500 decisions per day.
I believe it. Each block 21-27 kids sit in my room, and I have to think of those particular lives and make decisions on how to show them love, manage behaviors, and help each individual engage with and master the content.
Everyone seems to have an opinion on education, especially parents. Some of the parents will love me, some will hate me, and most won’t know anything about me. However, we will all love the lives I read.