A Teacher Learns from Her Students

Nathasha Alvarez Some teachers are counting down the number of days until summer vacation. I’m counting the number of days I have to continue educating these 7th graders. I don’t usually do that.

But I thought there was something about these kids that I liked. Turns out, I was right for the most part.

This post isn’t to reminisce about the school year because let’s face it, the students will have their version of their time with me and I will have mine. I feel fortunate when I can learn something from my time with my students. I’ve always been intrigued by the actions of humans. I tend to be right when it comes to people and their intentions. This year was no different but there were a few surprises.


The people who you least expect to rise to the challenge are the ones who surpass everyone’s expectations.

I give my students a pep talk to let them know that they can achieve greatness. I want them all to excel but like many teachers, bosses, and coaches, I don’t always see the unexpected ones who took the challenge to heart because I am too busy waiting for the “ONE” to lead the others. It’s a bittersweet experience. While I am disappointed that the students who I thought would give 100% didn’t do it without some coaxing, it is beautiful to see a student blossom more than I thought could be possible in such a short time.

The ones with the least amount to give are the ones who give more than expected. 

I have a student who I’ll call Jane. Her parents are not well off. I don’t even think she owns a phone! Sacrebleu! (If my students are reading this, look up sacrebleu.) Jane is a good girl. She’s sweet and honest. Every now and then, she leaves me a little something on my desk. She either made it or cut it out from a magazine. She made my Teacher Appreciation time special. A gift from the heart outshines any other gift. But for the record, I love all of my gifts.

I’m sure you know someone like Jane. Could be your neighbor who is willing to give you the shirt off her back to keep you warm. These people are golden.

While the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, some apples know that the tree is a bit rotten and choose not to be totally like the tree it came from. 

This has been one of those where many students have confessed that they want to be a better person than their parents. This is a good sign. Unfortunately, there are many parents out there who neglect their children because they are too busy dating, going to the gym to work out, stuck on the computer, abusing drugs or alcohol or both.

Some parents treat teachers like nannies. They march into the school’s main office demanding to know why their precious child has so much homework. Or why their golden one isn’t passing the course even though the child does no homework.  These parents see no wrong in their child’s ill manners because they are also ill mannered.

But there are kids out there who realize that their actions are wrong. These kids appreciate the teachers who push them beyond the boundaries of mediocrity. These are the leaders of tomorrow. They will be the backbone of our society’s integrity. I’m proud of these people.

Of course, I could also discuss about the negative surprises that popped out this year but then I’ll turn into those teachers who are counting the days until summer vacation begins. Instead, I want to put my energy into educating them right up until the last day of school.