March 1 – the boy who could’ve been me

220/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.   This one is a special one – it goes out to the shy, socially awkward, left of centre, left of popular high school boy. The boy that I speak about today can be any boy (or girl) as we have all seen him but some of you have bullied him, others ignored him but a few of you have friended him.   No, the boy I speak about is not me surprisingly (but yes, was me when I was younger). The boy I speak about was in my class first semester of this year and I immediately recognized myself in him. I have also taught several other similar boys (and girls) along the way and have always made it my goal to have an honest, genuine connection with them and to go out of my way to make that happen as I would have loved the same back when I was in high school. It took a while for “R” to feel comfortable enough to break out of his shell – while his peers would jokingly connect with me in class, he did so through social media and his class writings taking his own time. Although I am very transparent in my marking and dealings with the students – never, ever one to play favourites (at times to my detriment), I had a bit of a soft spot for this student as I wanted him to succeed/exceed. I would never have discovered his wry sense of humour if it hadn’t been for his comments on tests or assignments and I was so proud to see him start to break out of his shell and make those comments in class. I didn’t realize the impact I had on him until he told me in a card that he gave to me a week or two after the end of the semester about how he missed the class and my passion for teaching but also my care for students – I am even moved as I type this because that is one of the reasons I got into teaching – to give to students what I didn’t ever get and for “R” to recognize that and let me know about it makes all the difference in the world as in a sense, I am helping that boy who back 35 years ago. Thank you so much “R” for your sense of humour, the connection and to opening up to me but more importantly letting me know that I made a difference as a teacher for you. I probably needed you in class as a student just as much as you needed me as your teacher!

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