I joined the Denver Teacher Residency program knowing that I would learn a multitude of things from my lead teacher. I also knew I would gain invaluable knowledge from other experienced teachers, the program staff, and my own teachers. So far this has held completely true. What I did not realize was how much I would learn from my students, and how that knowledge would teach me more about the teaching profession than anything.
Most of my students started out this school year the same way; cool, calm, and collected. “D” was no different. As the “honeymoon” period wore off D began to change. He was extremely disruptive in all of his classes and left his teachers at a loss for what to do to. We found out D had a rough time this summer – his mother passed unexpectedly and his older sibling is no longer in the picture because of poor decisions.
Because each of his teachers tried to work with him and showed him that they cared about him, he began to buy into the entire school a lot more. Everywhere he went he found someone rooting for him. Of course D still has his bad days, but for the most part he has become the student I look to when I needed an answer. He also saved me one day when I could not get participation in my class to save my life. Once D raised his hand and decided to participate, everyone decided to participate.
Just recently before winter break, D’s attendance declined severely and I only saw him about once a week. I found out after coming back from break that D withdrew and would no longer attend Grant Middle School. Learning this made me realize just how much I had learned from him and started to think about how much I learn every day from all of my students. D taught me patience and compassion and he gave me a better understanding of the students I work with.
Every student has a story. I’m sure that you would be surprised by how hard some of their stories are, but how they are still so strong and look to us as teachers to help them make it. My students have not only made me a better teacher but they also make me a better person.