When the bell rings to signal the end of class, I always tell my class goodbye and wish them a good day or weekend. Today one of the boys yelled back, “Bye Mrs. Peterson! Love youuuuu!”

Exhibit A of why I love working with goofy, kind, smart teenagers every day. 


Yesterday of my students grabbed the wrong version for the second part of his test. I teased him about it when I handed back the tests today. 

After class, he approached me and said, “I don’t think I deserve this grade.” (He made an A.)

“What? Why not?”

“Because I didn’t take the right version. I probably would have gotten a lower grade had I taken the right one.”

I had to explain a few times that the level of difficulty on the versions is exactly the same. I just have different versions to combat some cheating (not that that’s all it takes, but it’s a start). 

“As long as you took it ethically, your grade stands and you should be very proud of yourself.”

He still did not seem happy about the test. 

“Is something else going on? You should be so proud of yourself and so happy about that grade.”

“I’m happy about the test.” Then he looked away from me, and I noticed tears in his eyes. “I miss my dad.” His voice choked as he continued to avoid eye contact and attempted to hold in the tears. 

My heart broke. This boy’s parents are still married, but he lives here with his mom, while his father and brother live on the East Coast. 

We talked for a while. I know what it’s like to live far away from your parents and siblings and have no say in the matter. It hurts you to the core. 

He admitted that some nights he doesn’t want to call his dad because it’s a reminder of how much he misses him. 

But he also said that when they do have time together, they are fully present and don’t take a single moment for granted. 

It was a hard conversation to have. I hate seeing my kids in pain…especially when I know there’s nothing I can do but listen. But I also consider any conversation that involves vulnerability a good thing. It means we’ve developed trust; now we have to cultivated and protect that fiercely. 

I know I miss a lot of opportunities for these conversations because I’m busy. I’m busy with important and necessary things (like getting through the math or trying to get away for fifteen minutes to have lunch with other adults), but my mind is always thinking, What do I need to get done next? This mindset makes me a very efficient person, but not always the best person at taking time to stop, breathe, and listen. Sometimes I’m way too focused on the goals for the day that I forget about the actual goal: the goal of really, truly getting to know my kids and creating a place where they feel comfortable enough to be sad, angry, joyous, or just…blah. They can be what they need to be in that moment. And I need to be able to tell when they need me to probe further. 

I’m glad I dug deeper today. Hopefully I can get better at this thing called margin…

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