Middle School Hero

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jan 04 2013

Return of the suspended students

About four months ago, I lost eight of my students. There was a drug bust and a distressingly high number of students on my team were implicated and suspended.

Today marked their first day back at RMS since the beginning of October, back when I was trying desperately to keep my head above water. When they left, there was no semblance of a classroom culture. There was no thread connecting one lesson to another, no data, no parental relationships. So much has changed since then.

On the one hand, I was excited to have them back where I can reach them. I was excited to have them come back to an atmosphere that is so much better than it was when they got in trouble. But on the other hand, their impending return made me nervous. Would they come in and swiftly destroy the culture I have been carefully cultivating?

The answer, thankfully, has been a reosunding “no”.

They’re so excited to be back, to be with their peers. I think they finally understand the value of school. Maybe they don’t quite get the importance of education, but they realize that they’d rather be busy and working towards something instead of just spinning their wheels at home. Trust me, even video games get boring after awhile.

The best part? The look in their eyes when you tell them that you missed them and that you’re excited that they’re back. They look shocked, then excited. In an instant, they go from pariah to kid, from “that druggie” to “that student with so much potential to achieve”.

Today, I got to humanize someone. I got to acknowledge the beauty in their lives and the power of redemption. Today, I got to do what I joined TFA to do.

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Chronicling teaching middle school English in OKC


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