At school on Friday I got the message that one of my good friends passed away. We had known each other for about 10 years and even though he was double my age he was a great friend that taught me many things. He will be missed by many, but especially by me.
As I thought about some of the things he and I talked about over the years, the one thing that I think about is a problem he caused with some of his family. He made some poor choices in his life that really affected his children. He was an angry young man and made some choices that drove some of his children to never speak to him again. When I met him he was in the process of trying to meet with all of his children one at a time to apologize and try to make things right with them. We talked for hours about his travels to their homes and how some of them would talk with him and others wouldn't even open their doors to let him talk. He sent letters, he made phone calls, he tried every thing he could think of to apologize.
This brings me to the students in my class. I have to think about how I react and work the students in my class when they make poor choices. Do I make them relive that moment over and over or am I able to move on from that situation and give them an opportunity to grow? Do I talk about how I cannot wait for this year to be over so I can get rid of this student, or do I tell them if they need a little help in school, or just to talk, come visit me? I guess what I am saying is that we all need a break. We all need a second, or third, chance in life. We need someone to say that we made a mistake, learn from it and move on. And then both of us move on. Students are still learning these lessons. I like to teach students about not burning bridges with their friends or with people in general. Sometimes I want to burn a bridge at the end of the year with a student that has been a challenge. But that wouldn't help them or me. Everyone needs guidance. If I forgave more students and let them move on, that might make situations better my class. As I remember the mission statements all teachers write in their first years in college, all students can learn. All students need the chance to learn. All students need opportunities. I, as a teacher, need to make that happen. This is the least I can do for my friend.
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