Friday, October 10, 2008

Six years later

Yesterday, the dream of every teacher came true for me.

Two seventh graders came to present to my class about recycling and global warming. (At our school, the seventh graders run the recycling program. My kids are already very excited about recycling, because they have a hippie teacher. But we still got the presentation.)

One of these seventh graders happens to have been my student when he was a first grader. He was six, and I was 26, and it was my very first year of being a teacher. And he was one of three students who gave me a run for my money that year. Yes, a very big run. We struggled, we fought, he climbed on tables, and I learned a lot about how to teach, from him. I sat by his mom when we first evaluated him for learning disabilities, and she cried, and I promised to explain all the experts' jargon to her (and I wanted to punch those experts with their jargon, as they talked about her son in that way). We ended the year good buddies, Antonio and I, as often happens between teachers and the kids they struggle with for ten months. You forge strong bonds, even as you fight.

Antonio has continued to have a hard time in school and has been diagnosed with a few complicated things. But he always says hi to me in the hall, and he is a sweet, sweet kid. (I don't think he climbs on tables anymore.) And last week I got a letter from him in my mailbox, a very professional, typed letter, telling me about why recycling and global warming are important, and asking when he could come teach my class about it.

He and his classmate were amazing teachers yesterday. They did better than many an adult would have with a classroom of 22 second graders. They were poised, organized, and knowledgeable about the subject. They stopped by in the morning to check out their plans with me, and to go over the time line of their presentation. They asked my students questions instead of just lecturing. They had a recycling game planned, that involved some running, and it went off without a hitch and without injury.

I am running the risk of being a corny teacher in admitting this here, but it brought tears to my eyes and filled my heart with joy. Antonio, who used to cry and run out of the room, and hide in a refrigerator box when he was sad, was teaching my kids, six years later, about global warming. If ever a teacher had a proud moment, this was it for me.


  1. That's totally amazing. I love that you got to be a part of his journey. ♥

  2. Wow Heidi! I'm so glad that Antonio came back to your classroom like this. This story really helps with the hard work and uncertainty. Mom

  3. what a great story. I am truly touched. Reminds me of raising children...