One of the joys of my job is that I get to work with a very wide age range of students. In fact, people are often surprised when I say I teach kids from 4-17, but personally, I love each stage kids go through for different reasons. I love the little ones for their sheer excitement about stories and the limitless possibilities of their imaginations, not yet bound by rules or logic. I love the middle years when we see them challenging us but also themselves as they develop keen interests in certain subjects or fanatical obsessions with particular authors. But I also love working with my oldest students because they share with me their frustrations with the present as they explore options for the future. I can level with them about why what we’re working on needs to get done, and they are eager to discuss with me their revelations about the world, the things they’ve read and learned inside school or out. And they challenge me to keep learning and reading because, after all, they do.
“Did you read about the ___?” one will ask.
“No… tell me about it!”
“Christine! Keep up with your news!” she’ll exclaim and then proceed to fill me in briefly to get to her point. And then afterwards, sometimes right away, sometimes later, I will read up on the latest controversy that has infuriated her and I will think, “Thanks. That was good to know or read.”
I am thankful for this kind of student because she shows up in class holding The Unbearable Lightness of Being and reminds me that I started that way back when but never finished it. Because she flips to a particular excerpt and says, “This is good. Read this,” and it is. Because she leaves me doodles of trees or balloons on my whiteboard when I’m not around ‘just because’ and they make me smile.
Just as I appreciate colleagues and friends who tell me about documentaries they’ve watched or who share links to interesting articles, I appreciate students who do the same. Her latest ‘read for the day’? “Soliloquy of the Solipsist”, Sylvia Plath. My turn to pass it on.