It doesn't matter how long I have been working with students.  Every year, I continue to be more and more amazed with the strength, resilience and power that my little ones possess.  My childhood was an easy one and thus I used to think that childhood itself was an easy phase of life.  I think back to those careless days where I had not a worry in the world and grown-ups took care of everything I needed.  

Life is not like that for many children, however, including many many students I have had over the years.  Not only do they face extremely difficult obstacles - the kinds that would make most adults crumble - but they have NO control over their fate.  They can't force their mom out of depression and make her take them to school - or just walk to school themselves.  They can't force a deadbeat dad to show up for even one birthday.  They can't make a dead parent come back to life.  They can't grant themselves legal immigration status.  They can't make a parent stop traveling for work and missing all their important milestones.  They can't control the vast health issues they face that prevent them for truly being careless.  They can't force a parent to stop drinking or taking drugs.  And most of all, they can't just pick up and move away from the bad situation they are in.  And yet, they show up in our classrooms with the biggest smile they can muster that morning, and manage to get through an entire day despite circumstances that would have me running away from everything I know.

They are amazing.  Remarkable.  Strong.  Hilarious.  Creative.  Children.  And yet, a couple of seconds after they enter the classroom, we often forget that and only see the distracting behaviors they are exhibiting.  They won't stop talking.  They seem unmotivated.  They won't sit still.  We have 20 something other students.  We can't treat them differently than everyone else.  Life is tough and we have to prepare them.  We have a million answers for why we must keep marching on.  And a million questions regarding how to make things better for our students.

This is something I am going to continue to ponder this year.  But as I do, I am going to keep in the front of my mind that the students sitting right in front of me are my true heroes...even when they are tapping a pencil as they bounce around the classroom and distract everyone else. 

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