It’s the first day of high school, and you’re probably a little nervous. I have a secret for you: the first day makes me a little nervous, too. It’s okay. In fact, it’s natural to feel that way when you meet someone new—especially someone who is going to become a major part of your life. In my case, I’m meeting approximately 150 new someones.
From this mid-August day until May, we’ll be seeing quite a bit of each other. In fact, I’ll spend more time with you than I will my own children during the school week.
There will be days you will like me. We’ll play fun review games, I’ll provide treats, and let’s be honest—sometimes I’m pretty hilarious.
There will be many days you don’t like me.
You won’t like me because I’m going to push you. I’m going to make you write and rewrite an essay until it is cohesive and persuasive. I’m going to hold you accountable for being tardy to my class. I’m going to make you take notes until your hand cramps up. I’m going to make you:
I’m going to require you to expand your vocabulary and use intellectual words—so, no. You may not say f*** or sh** in my presence—you are better than that.
After a while, we will build rapport. You might just begin to feel a newfound freedom to open up—and if we’re both lucky, I’ll be the one you talk to when you’re excited about your first job; when you’re upset with your mom; when you get your first boyfriend; when you’re heart’s been broken; when you’re being bullied; when you unexpectedly become pregnant; when you aced that ridiculous Algebra test; when you’re being abused.
Sometimes, you will come in before class or during lunch because you have no friends—my classroom will be your safe haven. Sometimes you’ll be in the musical or a football game—I will be in the audience. Sometimes you won’t be able to afford the required school supplies—I will buy them for you with my own money. Sometimes you won’t believe in yourself—but I will. Sometimes you will struggle with the content—I will tutor you. Sometimes you will have a parent pass away—I will attend the funeral.
You will always view me as the teacher, but the truth is, I will learn just as much from you. You will teach me new slang, what’s fashionable, and how to use the latest technology. You will also teach me about your culture, your religion, your hobbies. There will be days where you will have the most creative idea that it will completely change my perspective.
We meet today, but in the future I will attend your graduation and your wedding. I will be the one who writes your college recommendation letters and gives a reference for your future job.
Teaching is not for the weak. The stress is high—the pay is low. Schools are understaffed, under-supplied, and most of the time I feel unappreciated. There are days I will cry and want to quit, but I don’t.
I don’t because of you.
You are the reason I teach and keep coming back.
It’s certainly nice to make your acquaintance today.