In this, my eleventh year of teaching, I finally feel like a teacher.
I arrive early, leave late, spend my weekends grading papers, and lesson planning. I read young adult literature, picture books, and best practices books in my “spare” time. I worry about my students emotionally and academically. I feel this responsibility to not only educate them in the humanities but to teach them to be compassionate human beings.
Today we read The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig during our monthly anti-bullying meeting. I enjoy reading picture books to my middle school students for a variety of reasons but mostly because the illustrations strike them just as deep as the words. This book was no exception.
In this book we learn about Brian, a young boy who feels invisible. He’s not picked last for the team, he’s never picked at all. The children in his class see right through him, including his teacher. It is only in his drawings that Brian stands out. That all changes when a new boy, Justin, joins their class. Justin is Korean and he’s different. The kids make sure to notice him but not in a way you want to be noticed. Brian notices Justin and attempts a friendship. Justin reciprocates and slowly Brian starts to become visible. It is through their friendship that Brian finally feels seen.
Knowing many of my students sometimes feel as Brian does, I had them do a special exercise to end our meeting. Usually we end our meeting in a circle, complimenting each other. Today I asked them to turn to the person to their left and tell them when they “see” that person best. In response, the students replied, “Thank you for noticing me.”
It was a beautiful exercise and I was proud that I could facilitate this important lesson.
Each day I am afforded the unique and important opportunity to shape young minds.
When my turn came, my student said that they saw me best when I was reading a particularly emotional part of our read aloud or a Langston Hughes poem for our poetry unit. She said that she loved how excited I get when I teach.
I think, if a student notices this passion, then I must be doing something right.