Project Thankful: Reason #4

I am thankful for “my” students.

I say “my” students because as a substitute teacher, they are not technically my students.  I have, however, had thousands of students in my couple of years as a substitute teacher.  Thousands being my guesstimate given the 14-15 different schools and programs I have substitute taught in and the wide population of students.

If you asked me in college if I wanted to be a teacher or work in Education, I would have laughed and cited not being able to stand students for very long.  After I graduated, I found myself searching for a job.  Knowing my friend began substitute teaching in her town, I signed up to be on the sub list for my town and a neighboring city.

At the time, I thought it was just a job.  Yet teaching became a passion of mine as I quickly found enjoyment through working with students.  My students have indeed taught me lessons any college course would never have been able to. 

What I’ve found is that it’s often the smallest acts that resonate the most with students.  Being a gentle nudge rather than a push.  Asking how they are doing.  Above all, just listening.  Sounds simple enough, right?  But listening is an underrated act.  Truly listening, caring enough to pay attention to someone while they talk even about the most seemingly mundane topics – that’s what shows them you have heart.

I am thankful for my students because without them I would probably still be that shy girl who was beyond hesitant to open up to anyone or initiate conversation or fully listen to anyone, too anxious that when they finished they would ask me questions and want me to open up.  And I am thankful for my students because they helped me realize that I matter simply because I’m me.  They don’t know about my education or about my achievements; what they do know is that I’m someone who listens and cares.

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