I'm taking a quick break from making copies, grading papers, and straightening my classroom to reflect on the life of a former student. Logan, a student I had in class two years ago, was killed in a car accident on Monday along with his father, Noah. I hate to admit when his name started circulating around the halls Tuesday morning, I couldn't put a face to his name because I've had at least twenty students named Logan in my 10 years as a teacher. A colleague raced to my room to share the news, and I grabbed a yearbook to put a face with his name. Instantly, my heart sank.
Two years ago, Logan was a typical 8th grade student who wasn't a huge fan of reading or writing, but man, did he make me laugh. Whenever he needed "redirection" he always responded with a smile and usually some sort of joke or sarcastic remark that made me laugh. Logan definitely added personality to my classroom that year.
This week, my current students are learning a reading strategy from Notice & Note by Kylene Beers and Bob Probst called "Tough Questions." Using this strategy, students look for tough questions characters in their novels ask and then think deeper as they ask what that question makes them wonder about. It's timely that we're studying this strategy in class this week. I wonder if Logan knew he only had two years of life left as he sat in my class day in and day out if he would've done anything differently. Did he take advantage of life and "carpe diem" as I picture Robin Williams whispering in the movie Dead Poets Society? Is he thankful that he took advantage of the time he had with his friends and family? Does he have any regrets? I would imagine Logan would say he has no regrets. He was someone who soaked in life, for sure.
Logan's death makes me think about my own life, my own kids, my own students (who I often refer to as "my kids" to in conversations with other people). If I knew I only had two more years of life, what would I do? What would I not do? I pray that this year I'd be a teacher who remembers Logan and aside from all the academic work and requirements we have in school, I hope that I soak in my students as much as I can. I hope they know they are loved and cared for, and that I want to see them be a SUCCESS.
It's true that we never know what day will be our last. Logan's memory lives on and I pray I'll remember that as this year continues.
It's hard to believe the 2014-2015 school year is underway! Here in Kentucky, we've had a short summer because of an unusual amount of snow days last school year. It went by in a blink of an eye, but I'm definitely happy to be back in the classroom! This year is significant to me for many reasons. It's my 10th school year as an educator and THAT is mind-blowing. My very first classroom was 2005-2006 in Stafford, Virginia; it's amazing to think about how many students have come in and out of my life since then. I love thinking about how much I've grown as a teacher since then, I love thinking about all the different places I've been able to learn along with my "kids", and I am so excited to think about the future of my career and how much longer I have to serve students in the future.
This year is also significant to me because my daughter will be born at the end of November. Thinking about leaving my students mid-year for a while is definitely tough, but I know it's best for my family. My perspective on teaching and learning has changed significantly since my son was born in 2012. I realize how true it is that each and every student is different and unique, every student comes to the classroom with different talents and skills, and each student wants to be loved and cared for as they learn and venture through school. My goal is to provide that for my students.
So, yes, my friends. It's truly the most wonderful time of the year - a time for a fresh start with the entire year ahead of us. This week we'll be doing a little reflective writing on our hopes and goals for this year. Be thinking about what you hope 8th grade will look like for you and we'll put pen to paper.