I don’t remember the boy’s name anymore. It was more than twenty years ago and I’ve had so many students since then, it’s hard to keep track (remember; be aware of something).
He sat in the last row (line of seats), had somewhat unkempt (not combed; not neat) blond hair, and was slightly overweight. That I remember for sure.
I was a student teacher (someone training or preparing to be a teacher) at Humboldt High School, one of St. Paul’s – how shall I say it? – “lowest performing” schools (schools where students did poorly). I was assigned (given the task) to teach a Spanish I class to a group of seventh, eighth, and ninth graders (roughly 13- to 15-year-olds).
I was far from (not even close to) being a very good teacher during the 12 weeks I spent at Humboldt, but no one jumped out the second-story (floor or level) windows of the classroom, so that, I thought, was something (a small accomplishment).
The boy in question (who I’ve been talking about) never seemed to like my class. In fact, he was the kind of student who always has this somewhat (slightly) impatient (not willing to wait for something) or even hostile (angry; mean) look on his face.
Worse still (even worse), he had the habit (would often) of asking questions almost in the form of a challenge (trying to disagree with or defeat someone), as if to say, “Really? I don’t think so.”
Teachers, like mothers, are supposed to love all of their children equally, but we all know this isn’t true. There were students whom I really disliked, and who I am sure disliked me.
Well, I disliked this kid. As a new teacher, I didn’t appreciate (like) the fact that he was always asking questions. I thought he was trying to trip me up (make me make a mistake) or show the rest of the students how dumb I was.
I answered his questions, of course, and tried to smile as I did so (as I answered them). But inside (in my thoughts), I wished (hoped) that he would just stop showing up (coming) to class.
Finally, my 12 weeks at Humboldt drew to a close (ended), and I had my last class with my students. We had a little party, I think, and I said good-bye to the students.
As class ended, everyone slowly left the room except for the boy. When everyone else had gone, he walked up to me and gave me an envelope with a card inside. He just smiled, said “Thanks a lot!” and left.
Standing alone now in the classroom, I opened the envelope and pulled out (removed) the card. It said something along the lines of (something like this, but not exactly):
You are the best teacher I have ever had.
As you can imagine, I was stunned (really surprised). I stood there speechless (without words), amazed at how wrong I was about this boy.
I never saw the student again. My time as a student teacher ended, and the following year I took a job at another school.
Sometimes we just don’t know what is going on in the minds of those around us. We think we know, but we do not. If we are lucky, we are given the chance to discover just how wrong we are before it’s too late.