Today as I was driving, "Poker Face" by Lady Gaga started to play. My mind immediately went to my student, W. An 8th grader with Down Syndrome, W. was one of 10 students in my morning advisory. Every Friday we would watch funny videos or play students' favorite songs. And every Friday, W. would ask for the same song: "Poker Face". He had an elaborate dance that he had made up that went with the song, and he would make every move very seriously. At the end of the song, the look on his face was of pure joy. He never got bored of the song. Years later, every time I hear "Poker Face" I can't help but think of W.
There are those students we always remember. Sometimes they were the ones who drove us crazy. Other times, they were the ones who shone in class. Each of them leaves us, their teachers, something when they move on. A memory of them upon hearing a song; seeing someone who reminds us of a student; seeing students years later when they are grown up.
S. left me with a memory of a whole lot of sass. She was one of my favorite students, though she was known around the school for her attitude and loud voice. She often got in trouble for mouthing off. However, she liked my class, and did well in it. It was a rowdy class, and it was a large class - and typical of my Spanish classes, there were many challenging behaviors in it. Lucky for me, I had S. to help me keep everyone in order. When the class got too loud or chatty, S. would yell, "Everyone shut up!! Ms.Lopez is talking!!" You better believe the others would quiet down right away when they heard her. Thanks to her, the class was mostly manageable most of the time. Recently I saw her graduate. I told her about how much I appreciated her loudness and respect in my class, and she smiled.
That same year, I had a supremely challinging student in another class - possibly one of my most challenging students. K. was a ball of energy and could sway the dynamics of the entire class in a nanosecond. He was funny, silly, and likeable most of the time; some of time his energy could become negative. K. left me with a funny jingle in my head as I was teaching the Spanish word for pencil sharpener: "sacapuntas", He found the word hilarious, and began rapping it, complete with beatboxing and all: "Sacapuntas, sacapuntas, saca, saca, sacapuntas....." The rest of the class was of course very amused, and to this day, every time I look at a pencil sharpener, I think of K. I recently saw him: a mature young man, looking fantastic, getting on the bus out of town to go back to his college (most of them do eventually grow up!).
I smile when I think about these and so many other students who have passed through my classrooms, all leaving their mark in some way. What have students left you with as they have passed through your classroom?