Every winter when I come back home, I look through my old collections of letters, gifts, projects, art, and any miscellaneous item. I look through them (1) to throw some things away because I bring new things back; (2) to remind me where I come from, how far I have come, and who I am; (3) to continue to move in positive directions.
I recently opened up some notes that my students wrote for me two summers ago when I was a teaching fellow at a non-profit organization. In all honesty, I tried not to think a lot about that summer because it was one of the toughest and most toxic work environment that I have been in. I remember coming home and going to sleep right away because I did not have the physical, mental, and emotional energy to do anything for me.
Now, when I look through those notes, these are the things that I have learned
- My students “learned new things”
- My students felt like their writing was challenged which allowed them to work on it
- My students “appreciate writing more”
- My students still need to learn when to use an versus a.
- My students learned two ways of organizing their compare and contrast papers
- One of my students will “take the knowledge” with them
As a teacher…
- I should not assume my students’ first language because one of my students wrote
“Even when you talk Hmong to me, I don’t really understand Hmong, so all this time I didn’t know what you were saying XD.” (Thanks for letting me know afterward).
- I still kept my “cool” when my students goofed around or did not want to do their work.
- “… that teachers can be fun too”
- I was “chill” with them.
- I was a “great” teacher.
- One of my students apologized for not doing the booyah or homework that I assigned them.
- My students want to be there for me too.
- They got my back.
- They will teach me the “new lingo” (unfortunately, I have a lot to learn).
- My students want to see me grow too. One of my students wrote, “Stand up for yourself. You have a voice for a reason.”
As a person…
- I have a positive mindset
- I smile a lot.
- I am enthusiastic
- I was “probably the most cool and easy-going person…” (You know, just probably).
- That I listened when no one else listened.
Yes, that summer was hard to the point where I sometimes question how I survived it. However, I continue to think about my students from that summer because I have learned so much from them too. So (1) I am not ready to throw these notes away yet; (2) They remind me who I am and who I can be and become. They remind me that I still have a lot to grow professionally, academically, and personally; (3) I want to continue writing. I want to continue to listen to others. I want to continue to share my light.