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Posted By Chalkbrd

I wonder.  When my teachers looked at me sitting at my desk in class, what did they see in me?  Did any of them see in me the person I've become?  I can't help but wonder how the student me appeared to my teachers back then.

Now that I'm no longer teaching, several of my former students have friended me on Facebook.  They're getting married, having babies, shipping out to Afghanistan, taking on managerial roles, and beginning to make their marks in the working world.  While many are living up to a potential I saw in them, I have to admit that there are some who are becoming much more than I ever suspected they were capable of when I had them in class.  And, unfortunately, some have taken a much darker path.

Oh, I know we teachers can't see the future, but I wonder how I might have treated them differently if I'd have known the futures of some of my students.  What if I'd known that at barely 23 years old this boy who loved to write stories (with handwriting that was almost illegible) would be shipped off to Afghanistan, only to have his tour of duty cut short so he could accompany his father's body back from his own tour in that country?  What if I'd known that the boy who always took the back desk in class and made it his good-natured goal to never bring his notebook to Spanish class would take his own life a couple of weeks before his younger brother graduated from high school?  What if I could have seen that this girl who was too grown up to play with the language or do stories with us would smile so brightly as she pointed to the pictures of her young son and told me how much she loved playing with him?

What might I have done differently if I'd known their futures?  Maybe I'd have had more patience with them.  Maybe I'd have given them more encouragement.  Maybe I could have looked past the what is and could have seen the what might be.

But unless someone is going to build a time machine, I can't change what was.  I can only take the what is now and try to imagine the what might be.  I can treat each person in the now as if they will develop that potential within.  And who knows?  Maybe somewhere along the line one of those who spent time in my class will fondly remember Miss Read for her encouraging words and pass their own on to someone else.

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