Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Some of My Favorite Earrings

I had a student call me a "fucking loser" today at school. 

This was after the student had already had a phone out (which I took) and had mouthed off a fair amount to me most of the class period leading up to that.  I don't want to go into too many details here (for a variety of reasons; I'm pretty confident I could tell the story stripped of enough detail to render it perfectly safe for confidentiality stuff), but let's just say this is a kid who'd been reasonably good all year, and who seemed to have flipped a switch in recent days.

When I took the phone, the kid prayed ("JESUS CHRIST!  That's ridiculous!") and we all know PRAYER is not allowed in schools, so I sent the charmer to the office.  And that's when I got the "FUCKING LOSER."

Just another one of those delightful days in public education.

Anyway, I posted about it on my personal Facebook page.

Here is what I wrote:

According to one of my charming, more articulate students, I am a "fucking loser." This was said to my face. Doesn't that make you all wish you taught in a public school?

It was just enough to vent a little, nothing more.

A few of my friends posted sympathetic or outraged comments, and I appreciated that.  But then I had a former student -- a wonderful "kid" I had ten years ago, who is now married with a beautiful wife and "brand new" baby girl, and who is now a teacher himself -- comment. 

This is what he wrote:

Mrs. [redacted] was and still remains one of the most intelligent and passionate teachers I've ever had. Hated math until I had her sophomore year. Now I have a great appreciation for all she did and continues to do as an educator myself. That kid doesn't know how good he has it....I had some real lemons for teachers and you're about as good as it gets! Keep doing what you do so incredibly well!!

And that's what makes it all worth it.

Thanks, "former student."  I don't want to call you out by name here, because I don't know if you're comfortable with that.  But a thousand thank-you's.  You reminded me why I do what I do, and I love you for it.

Now, here's the best part:  

I had this student when I was very much a new teacher, still getting my "teacher legs" and trying to figure it all out.  I wasn't always the very best teacher, not by a long shot.  In fact, sometimes I think back to just how BAD I was and I absolutely cringe.  I really liked this student and his class, though, and I think we all had a great rapport, even if I was still so very green.

Anyway, this student's mom was wonderful to me when she found out we were moving from GA to NH.  She came to see me in my room one afternoon and told me how disappointed she was that I would not get my student's little sister one day, and how I was doing a great job (something that, at the time, I was not at all convinced of).  

At the end of the school year, this student and his family gave me a generous gift certificate to the mall.  I decided to not spend it on silly stuff, but to spend it on something that I would keep forever, to remember them by.  After a lot of "nope, nope, nope" wandering, I bought myself a nice pair of earrings at a jewelry store.  I still wear those earrings.  I have wondered on occasion, when I put them in and get to thinking, if my student even remembered me.  You know -- was their impression on me more lasting than my impression on them?  Do they look back now and think I really wasn't all that great?  But every time I put on the earrings I remembered him and his class and his family.  

I guess he did remember me, after all.  

I'm so thankful for the turns life takes.  I think I'll wear those earrings tomorrow.  



  1. And it's things like that that keeps us going...

  2. beautiful blogpost. that kinda made my day.

    1. Thanks, Sue! I'll take "kinda making your day" any day!

  3. You have no idea what a terrible teacher I would've been. If every kid was as lucky to have someone like you, the world would be a better place. I'm glad you got that pick-me-up, well-earned! And I'm waiting for a pic of those earrings!

    1. Thanks, Marianne. Your check is in the mail. Seriously, moments like those do great things for a girl who's kinda down. And yes, I definitely need to post a pic!