The Gift of Hope
I met my calculus class for the final time this week. We commiserated about their awful experience with the AP exam (“I spent so much time typing parentheses!”), did some math (“Don’t you ever take a day off?”), and spent plenty of time in breakout rooms so students could socialize and say goodbye.
Before I said goodbye myself, I thanked them. This group of advanced students were ready to succeed in September. More ready than I was. As I stumbled my way through those first weeks of turning myself into an online math teacher, they did more than their part. They engaged in class when I didn’t give them much to engage with. They took initiative and tried to make breakout rooms productive. They invested themselves in their work and responded to my feedback.
In those first few weeks, they did their jobs better than I did mine. They were learning, despite everything, and that gave me hope. Hope that maybe I just had to figure a few things out and I would be ok. Hope that maybe my 9th graders were learning, too, even though it was harder to tell. Hope that maybe I just might make it to the end of the year and feel like I accomplished something.
Students give so much to their teachers: their enthusiasm, their open-mindedness, their creativity, their skepticism. These gifts are part of what makes teaching so fulfilling. This year my students gave me hope. And I wouldn’t be here without it.