Back To School

By August 19, 2015 2 Comments

I’m feeling happier and happier every day this week. A warm feeling crept into my face on Monday, when two students stopped by my office to talk. After they left, I hustled to fill the purple plastic bowl on my desk with candy in case more of them appeared.

They aren’t due on campus until next Wednesday, but they are definitely in orbit. And it’s not that I’m lying in wait for them — that’s not it at all — I’m just excited they’re in view again, like planets that come into the night sky for a period of time and then, eventually and expectedly, vanish from sight.

People ask me often why I became an educator and I don’t think my answer has changed one time — the kids. I’m not unique in feeling this way, but I’m steadfast.

When I was a 23 year old teacher, and they were 16 and 17 years old, I didn’t really think of them as students. They weren’t friends, either. They were a part of my education, my training ground.

At some point along the way, as my identity as a teacher developed, I began to see them as individuals. Each time I sat down to plan a course or a project, I thought about each child’s potential response. I thought about my impact.

John Hattie writes in his powerful series, Visible Learning, that a key to success in education is for teachers to be able to imagine the experience of students.  I think another key is for teachers to take the students they encounter into their hearts, to think about them as distinct and brightly shining, if sometimes distant, and to design experiences for them that will bring them closer.



Jessica is a doctoral candidate, education consultant, writer and editor. She is the founder of bookclique, a collaborative of English teachers and students working to promote book culture, and a co-founder of Well-Schooled, the site for educator storytelling, dedicated to sharing first-person educator stories. All Rights Reserved - What I Learned Today in School.


  • Tim Waples says:

    Right with you, Jess. A few years ago, I came up with this formulation of my teaching trajectory:

    “First, he taught books. Later, he taught students.”