Yesterday, I said goodbye to two of my sixth grade classes; this week is the last week of the school year, so the sixth graders are graduating from elementary school and moving on up to their prospective middle schools. I’ve mentioned in a previous post that my sixth graders have not been my favorite students to teach because of their “We rule and we’re too cool for school” attitudes: no matter how much effort and planning I put into their lessons, no matter how fun and engaging I tried to make their classes, they seemed to just not give a damn about English or me. So when I said “Good luck in middle school!” and “I’ll miss you!” to them yesterday, I assumed that they could care less.
After my first sixth grade class of the day was over, one of my students from the class came up to the front and approached me for the first time. We had never talked before, but I had noticed her in past classes because she’s extremely good at speaking English and she’s brilliant all around. The girl, Hyeon-Ju, shyly asked, “Teacher, how do you spell your name?” After I wrote my name on a piece of scratch paper for her, I was left confused as to why this little sixth grade girl, who had never approached me before, suddenly wanted to know how to spell my name.
My confusion over Hyeon-Ju’s question ceased during lunchtime when she approached me again, only this time with a big, yellow scroll in hand. Apparently, the reason Hyeon-Ju wanted my name spelling is so she and her class could write a goodbye letter for me saying “I love you,” “You were the best teacher for us,” “I will miss you,” and “Please don’t forget us.” When I realized what Hyeon-Ju and her class had done for me, I felt sad, touched, but most of all, surprised. My sixth grade classes have always been so apathetic, especially Hyeon-Ju’s; in fact, they were one of my most difficult 6th grade classes! But as it turns out, some of them really did care about me enough to let me know I had made a small, but significant impact on their lives.
Sometimes I get scared at the thought of becoming a teacher. I tell myself that it’s going to be really hard, or that I won’t be good enough. But when I have an experience like the one I had with Hyeon-Ju’s class, it gives me the confidence I need again to think, “I can do this. I am meant to do this.” I LOVE working with kids. I love teaching them, helping them, and being a positive role model in their lives. I’ve done it on and off for a long time, and it’s what I want to do as a career. More specifically, I want to be a teacher. I know being a teacher is going to be hard, and there are times when I’m going to be tired and stressed due to my job, but the great challenge of teaching children is one I am more than willing to accept. Because the reward of being able to make even the smallest positive impact in a child’s life? It’s going to be just as great.