Teaching in high school has given me an opportunity to live vicariously through my students and be part of something I personally was not part of when I was in their shoes. The drama, the cliques, the friendships and rivalries make fresh all the old memories and scars I experienced some 13+ years ago.
It’s been fairly easy to relate to all types of people since I have the advantage of being the adult figure who is able to let things be and allow students to make their own mistakes and take responsibility for their own lives. I give advice, admonish, and encourage them along the way, and they seem content to fill me in on the nitty gritty of their lives, knowing I would rather die a million deaths than get involved in the drama or betray their confidence in me.
I think this senior class in general has been the most special to me. From the most intelligent/gifted to the ones to struggle academically…from the prom queens and football stars to the ones who try to hide amongst their small group of friends…each one has become a unique and life-altering mark on my life. I’ve learned a lot about high school and the different aspects of it I missed when I was in high school. But I’ve also learned a lot about myself and who I am.
In looking back to my own high school days, I see myself as a nerd…socially awkward, desperately wanting to be in the “high school scene,” but not knowing how to be accepted. So my defense mechanism was to forgo all high school activities by acting as if participating in these school events were a waste of time or “uncool”. Now, after over a decade, I’m left thinking “what if” about what high school would have been like if I had taken more risks, been friendlier, and had taken advantage of simply being there. Sporting events, school plays, pep rallies, homecoming activities…my high school offered so much, but I shunned all of it.
I realize I’m not alone…that students like me are still roaming the hallways of high schools. Sure, some of them genuinely believe high school is a waste of time, but others are like me, who wants to find a way in, but fearful of the rejection that could come with taking that step.
So to the students who will leave me behind as they begin to pursue their dreams…to the ones I leave behind that I wish I could have taught next year…and even to the ones I would have dreaded facing in the classroom once more had I stayed (all you teachers know what I’m talking about!!), one thought I leave with you.