lesson of the year: the hardest to love

today was the last day with my students.

class was a frenzy of yearbook signing, silly pictures, and group hugs.

i stood in the midst of the chaos and reflected upon what i learned this year.

did i improve upon my lesson design skills? did i become more effective as a director and producer of shows? did i choose better scripts, integrate more technology, or refine my classroom management?

many thoughts about the year were bouncing around in my head when a student approached me.

this student was my most difficult challenge for the last few months. his behavior was intense and pushed me to my limits. i called upon every ounce of patience and compassion within myself to help this human function in the world of middle school. it was a huge amount of energy and effort, and i was quite uncertain that i had made even a tiny difference.

as i stood pondering the year, this student walked up to me and handed me a piece of folded notebook paper. he did it simply, with no fanfare whatsoever, and then walked away...

i slowly opened it, and my heart cracked open with joy.

he had written a sincere note telling me how much he loved my class and that it was his best experience this year. he thanked me for teaching him and wished me a great summer.

everyone else was zipping around the room, completely absorbed in silly middle school antics, and my most challenging student had just quietly handed me a thank you note.

i was flabbergasted.

immediately i remembered a little sign i made myself at the beginning of the year which i taped to the wall in my supply closet:
although i learned many things this year, this lesson is the one that stands out, the one i want to remember, and the one i carry most dearly in my heart.


Monica said...

oh man, that has GOT to be one of the best teacher moments.

And yes, great message to self.
we often feel we need to teach people a lesson - you're crappy so you deserve crappy back, see how you like it.
But those that are troubled don't know how to love in the best way, and it's only in been shown love that they can heal or grow in any way.

good job Miss! ;)

The Beetle Shack said...

ooh you're a teacher, i'm assuming Drama? im a vis art teacher and here in Australia, that would mean we would be in the same faculity. Middle school is hard work- how wonderful to be recognised by the ones that mean it! thats fantastic!


beka*b said...

Stunning. That is truly awesome - makes everything you have done worthwhile and that you were able to make a connection with him. I definately think that teachers of the 'arts' have a special role to play in student development as the topics they cover enable a much deeper connection with people and students that struggle elsewhere in school can often find a way to express themselves that other subjects do not allow. Well done you :)

Mary said...

What an awesome way to conclude the school year, Diane, and what a beautiful lesson. Thanks for sharing. I may need to write this quote down for myself to take in the classroom!

Enjoy your summer vacation!

Anonymous said...

I'm happy for you. these little moments make everything worthwhile and stay with you (and now me) for ever :)

enjoy your summer break!

sara said...

lovely! the two of you will remember each other the rest of your lives... well done :)

keishua said...

wow! That is amazing. I can tell you that my teachers made such a different in my life. I was super close to my theater and English teachers and their care had definitely informed my life.

Heidi pumpkin pie said...

I bet you are the best teacher! You have the warmest heart :)

Lynn {hearted girl} said...

well god bless his darling heart! what a wondrous experience Diane and most deserved. the sign you made reminds me to be more present and sensitive to others paths of life.

what a wonderful day, bittersweet and precious. ♥

diane said...

monica...you made a great point about healing + growth! yes.

em...yes, i teach middle school drama. i didn't realize until this comment that you are a teacher! there is a special place in my heart for teachers, and an EXTRA special place for arts teachers. :)

beka...i absolutely agree with you about connecting with certain kids through the arts and appreciate your eloquent words. <3

mary...little reminders like these help me throughout the day when i'm teaching.

petra, sara, keishua, heidi, lynn...you are a beautiful bunch of friends, and i am so grateful for your kinds words. xoxo

PuNk rAwK pUrL said...

gratitude tears for this story!

diane said...

tammy...aw, thanks for the love. now i have eyeball water too. xo