There definitely weren’t any April Fools jokes happening here today. It wasn’t the best day I’ve had in a while…
I didn’t sleep well at all last night. I woke up before my alarm this morning. I got ready for work, knowing that I really had no idea what the day would hold. I got to school and had a faculty meeting that was run by district personnel; there were so many levels and layers of bullshit happening, it was really astounding. I left the meeting angry, but knew that I had to see my kids.
Instead of being a silver day (periods 1-4), we met with all of our classes for 41 minutes each. This was honestly the longest day ever.
I began my first period class (senior English) by telling them that it’s ok to not be ok. It’s ok to be sad and be in your feelings. What’s not ok is to not do something positive about it. I told them to seek help, talk to someone they trust – a parent, friend, counselor, me. As I talked to them, I cried. I told them that there are days that I’m not ok. There are days it’s just as much of an effort for me to get up and come to school as it is for them. I told them that most of their teachers aren’t ok, and we put on a brave face to be strong for them. I told them that I lost a friend to gun violence when I was 15; I told them that I had a student attempt suicide a few years ago, and he was unsuccessful and will live the rest of his life blind and with slight brain trauma. I needed them to know that I get it – all of it – and that I’m here for them. I needed them to know that teachers are people, too. I encouraged all of them to seek help, and see a counselor if they aren’t already.
My next two classes, second and third periods, (senior English and study hall) went the same way. While I’m very sensitive and emotional, I don’t cry at school. It just all hit me today. I’m not ashamed. I’m human.
I teared up during my fourth period class (senior English) as well as my fifth and sixth period classes (Intro to Journalism), but managed to keep it together. It was the same schtick as previous periods, but I guess saying it so many times took some of the emotion out of it.
Then came eighth period – yearbook. I lost it with them. I told them how much I love them. That I’m always here for them… even when they’re in college… even when they’re adults. I told them that most days it’s hard to get dressed and come to school, but I do it for them. I said that we’re a large, dysfunctional family, but we’re still a family. They frustrate me, stress me out, make me laugh and make me cry. I love them. They’re my kids.
As exhausting as today has been, I’m so glad I got to see all of my classes. I needed to hear them, and I needed them to hear me. What we do as teachers doesn’t start and end with the bells. We take the conversations home with us. When the grading is done and classes have been passed or failed, it’s the relationships that will remain. They’ve all made an impact on my life, and I’m better for it.