I just finished the book Before I Fall. It was.... well, it was. I'm still not sure if I'd recommend it or not. I spent the first 80 pages furious at the main character. Almost quit reading it. Liked the ending though... mostly.
It really got me looking at my kids in a different light, though. I have spent the last two days giggling and chuckling to myself as I walked around monitoring my students taking a test. It is a rare thing to hear from a high school teacher, but my students are so cute. Walking through the desks and watching their faces taking a test is one of the cutest things I've seen, though I'm sure they don't see it that way. Some faces are peaceful and sure, others are distressed, pensive, frustrated, day-dreaming. A boy leaves for lunch with his hair ruffled and fluffed from running his fingers through it so many times while stressing about answers. The girl next to him has to swap pens because she has chewed the end of this one clean off. Next thing you know, she'll have ink all over the desk from breaking the stick inside.
One student I have to tap on the shoulder every 5 minutes and remind him to focus and finish up. I have no idea what he's thinking about, but it's not Spanish. Maybe he is hungry, or stayed up too late playing games and can't focus now. Maybe he's thinking about his parents always pressuring him about classes he cares nothing about... but that can't be it. He is far away, but not in a bad place. Maybe he is thinking about his new girlfriend, wishing he could text her about how awful this test is, or where they're sitting at lunch. What are they doing after school? This weekend? Maybe he's thinking about the clothes he'll wear on their date, or whether or not he should gel his hair. There's a an Ag trip coming up, maybe he's thinking about the fun they'll have being out of school, or who his roommate will be.
It's funny the things they think are important... the things that are important to them... the things I used to think were important. I can tell you, Spanish is not one of them. I'd bet very few of their classes are at the top of their lists. There are so many other things to be worried about: the big game, making playoffs, what their boyfriends and girlfriends are doing, what their friends are doing, what they're having for lunch, for dinner, what's going on after school, what movie/tv/netflix/videogame releases are going on, the latest news about he said that she said that he swears they kissed, even though she's talking to the other guy.
I watch them: joking on the way to lunch, cringing as they turn in the test they didn't study for, smiling about their plans for the day. I think about who I was in high school: Who would I have been friends with? Who would I have liked to have as friends? Which table would I sit at during lunch? Who would my friends and I be giggling about as we write our first names with the boys' last names attached in our notes? Which homework would I be dreading? Math, obviously. That hasn't changed. I laugh to myself thinking of all the things I thought were important, and all of the things that never mattered. The moments I still remember, the person I thought I would be, compared to the person I am.