Thursday, March 24, 2022


Sure it's a generalization but it seems that when students show up mid-year trouble begins. At least it does in the middle school years. Honestly, the trouble isn't always the fault of the new kid. Often it's the reaction of others that creates drama and chaos.

Back in late 2019, a new student arrived in one of my classes. Information from his previous school indicated some learning deficiencies and also quite a few behavior problems. It wasn't easy but in time we developed some sort of relationship and worked together with a moderate amount of success.

That does not mean that he was a model student. There were lots of discipline issues- especially during unstructured times like changing classes and lunchtime.

And then Covid arrived as did our last day of in-person instruction.

I didn't hear much from him after that. For many students school is a place, not an idea. So the idea of working independently at home to continue to develop writing and thinking schools seemed absurd if it wasn't done at the school building. Basically, if kids weren't actually going into school then school didn't exist.

My friend didn't respond to most attempts at re-engaging the rest of that year, My co-teacher had a little bit of success by just talking with him to check in emotionally but there was next to no work completion. By the time we returned to school the next year he was back in his old district.

Like so many students from that school year, I sort of forgot all about him. Preoccupied with pandemic teaching and with my own reaction to the state of affairs has somehow erased the names of so many students from my brain. Well, it's either that or the 28 years of student names I have rattling around my head.

Yesterday, I came across the following old note from my former student:

Hi miss brown I just want to say I will miss u and hope that u stay safe and be healthy and be careful out there and don't get hurt and I'm sorry for how I act and I just hope that everything is well for you and I will miss u

He signed his name and now that I've seen it again I don't think I'll ever forget him or his message.


  1. What a sweet note from your student, which shows the relationship you had built. You offer deep reflections in this post, especially about how students see school as a place vs. an idea.

  2. I agree with Ms. Chiu. Your place vs. idea point is important to what we do each day, and the note is evidence of that. May we all provide that place (for him and others) for many years to come.

  3. The things we keep! They are always so meaningful later.

  4. That's great to hear, Mary! Good insight about school being a place, not an idea.