Lessons Learned In Combat

“Oh No You DI-DN’T!”: Ten Apologies to my Former Students

If you are one of the two (maybe three) people who read my last post, you may think that I think that I am one of those educators who always “got it.” Not true. There have been many moments during my teaching career when clearly I didn’t get it–what my friend Kathy calls those “Oh no you DI-DN’T!” moments.

It took an incredible amount of reading, talking, reflection, and re-visiting my core beliefs about teaching and learning to finally “get it.” (Big shout-out to everyone who was a part of the UNH graduate program in Reading, which, sadly, no longer exists. It was seriously badass.)

And because we are all friends here, and I trust you to not be hatin’ on me, I have decided to share ten of my most mortifying “Oh no you DI-DN’T!” moments as an educator in the form of ten apologies to my former students.

Dear former students…

1. I’m sorry I used a hamburger graphic organizer to teach you how to write an essay. And I’m sorry that when your essays stunk, I blamed you.

2. I’m sorry I didn’t read aloud to you as often as I should have. (That is to say, daily.)

3. I’m sorry I sometimes attributed your lack of effort or engagement to “laziness” instead of reflecting on my own teaching.

4. I’m sorry I used to believe that spelling couldn’t be taught. And for all of those stupid Friday spelling tests–a thousand apologies.

5. I’m sorry about that year when I was so frustrated with the high-stakes tests that were being jammed down our throats that I spent a lot of time teaching to the test. (It didn’t help, anyway.)

6. I’m sorry I didn’t value your illustrations as much as I valued your writing. That was totally my bad.

7. I’m sorry for the years when I veered from the writer’s workshop format and taught in “units.” I probably hated the research unit as much as you did, truth be told.

8. I’m sorry I advocated for tracking you guys into “high,” “middle of the road,” and “struggling” classes for those two years. That was incredibly disrespectful and misguided of me. (And despite what I had hoped, it definitely wasn’t “easier” to teach you that way.)

9. I’m sorry for the glut of whole-class novels we read. I should have chosen shorter pieces for the sake of having “shared texts” and saved those novels for some other purpose (like filling the recycle bin).

10. I’m sorry I subjected you to all those worksheets. Writing them myself, even when I tried to “differentiate” and write three different versions of them, was a perfect example of completely. Not. Getting it.

Please share your own “apologies” below. I promise I won’t be hatin’ on you.

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2 thoughts on ““Oh No You DI-DN’T!”: Ten Apologies to my Former Students”

  1. I’m sorry I made you fill out Reading Logs every night. Truth be told, I knew you hated writing in them and I hated reading them, too. Never again.

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