A Day in the Life of a Student

Things aren’t as easy as you might think.

I like school.

My classes don’t start until after nine o’clock, but I’m usually awake early — sometimes by six fifteen. My Mom, or my Nana, drop me off at school by seven-thirty so that they are able to make it to work on time. There are a lot of days when I arrive on campus before the teachers, and even the principal. I don’t mind being there early. Some days I just chill and listen to music. Other times I shoot some baskets, or talk to friends who also get dropped off early. If I didn’t have a chance to grab a bowl of cereal for breakfast (and if I have money), I might walk to the convenience store for a soda and chips, or head to McDonald’s with friends.

My first class of the day is math. I used to hate math. H.A.T.E. – hate. But, this year I really like my teacher. She doesn’t get frustrated with me when I don’t understand. She’s always asking me about stuff. You know, like what I did over the weekend, how my soccer game went, and what kind of music I listen to. I don’t really think the math has gotten any easier, but I’m willing to work a little harder for my teacher — and she notices. That’s THE FIRST THING I wish all teachers knew:  if I feel like someone cares about me, like they have an interest and recognize the positive things I do, I’ll work a little harder and behave a little better. Most of the time.

My second class of the day is what they call an elective. Some kids get two electives, but I only get one. You see, even though I’m in eighth grade, I’m not a very good reader. It has something to do with my Lexile level. Whatever that is. So one of my electives is what they call a reading intervention. It’s okay, and it seems to help, but I don’t really understand how it can be called an “elective” since I didn’t get to choose it. My other elective class is art. I did choose art. I love to draw and I am learning new ways to express myself and share my interests in this class. My elective — art that is — is one of the main reasons I enjoy coming to school. I’m glad that class didn’t get taken away. So, every other day, I look forward to second period.

Next, I’m off to social studies. It’s a pretty cool class. I like the news — my teacher says we call the news “current events.” Sometimes I’ll watch the news at home when I’m not playing video games or watching my little brothers and sisters. My social studies teacher is pretty cool. We have lot’s of good conversations and do a lot of work in groups. This is THE SECOND THING I wish all teachers knew: it is really hard for me to sit still and stay focused for very long. When teachers talk all the time, I get anxious, and I’ll be honest, I sometimes quit paying attention and act out a little. I like it when my teacher has us work in groups and when we really get to participate in the class — sharing our ideas and opinions. Sometimes, it seems like me and my classmates are teaching social studies — and that’s okay. It makes me feel good to think that the teacher believes we can handle this.

It’s lunch time. Finally. I am starving (especially if I didn’t make it to the convenience store, or McDonalds). My lunch is free. I don’t completely understand this, but it has something to do with my Mom not making enough money. I don’t really mind. A lot of kids at my school get free lunch. Sometimes, I’m a little jealous because some of my friends get to buy extra stuff — like chips, an extra burrito, or even ice cream sandwiches. If I’m lucky, and they are feeling generous, they might buy me something. After I eat, I’ll head out to play a little soccer. Even though it’s sometimes hot, this is really the only time during the day when I get to run around, so it’s worth it. I think the exercise makes me less stressed and helps me focus.

After lunch, I go to language arts. This is my least favorite class. Like I said before, I’m not a very good reader and we do A LOT of reading in language arts. We also have a lot of homework in this class, but I don’t do much of it. Sometimes I don’t do it because I don’t understand it. Sometimes I don’t do it because our apartment is so noisy and my brothers and sisters bug me. And, sometimes, I don’t do it because I don’t like it. Right now, I’m failing language arts. My behavior also isn’t so great in this class. The teacher talks A LOT, and expects us to sit still and stay quiet. I get frustrated in language arts — sometimes even angry. There are times when I misbehave just because I am angry (because I can’t read very well) and I want someone else to be angry. How in the world can I be in 8th grade and not be able to read?! The teacher say’s things to me like, “Why don’t you care more?” and “Maybe, if you actually tried, you would be passing this class.” This does not help. This is THE THIRD THING I wish all teachers understood: don’t make assumptions about kids — sometimes there is more to the story. I do care. I just don’t always get it. I’ll admit that sometimes I don’t know how to handle myself when I find things difficult, so I act out. But I do care. I also want to ask my teachers if they were always focused on “improving their education” when they were in junior high, or did they sometimes act like normal kids? I wonder.

Science is my last class of the day, and it’s a little “up and down” for me. My teacher is a man, and I don’t always do great with men. My dad has been in and out of prison, and therefore, in and out of my life. Even when he is around, he doesn’t always treat my Mom very well and sometimes he is really mean to me. I think that’s why I don’t always get along with my male teachers. I like all of the hands-on stuff we do in science class, and really, my teacher is a nice guy, but sometimes I’ll do things that aren’t very respectful, just to see how he is going to handle it. He usually does pretty good. Even when I mess up, he’ll give me a chance to explain what is wrong, he listens, and then he says to me, “Well, tomorrow’s a new day.” And he smiles. This is THE FOURTH THING I wish all teachers knew: when I mess up, I need to know that you will give me another chance. I need to know you aren’t going to “stay mad” at me. I need to know that tomorrow is a new day. I need to see you smile.

That’s it. End of the day. Sort of. My language arts teacher wants me to stay after school for tutoring, but I have to go home. I told her I’d be there to avoid a lecture, but I can’t stay. My little brothers and sisters have already been home by themselves for a couple of hours and I need to get home to make sure they aren’t destroying the apartment, or hurting each other. My Mom says that’s my responsibility, until she gets home.

I’ll try to do some of my homework tonight, but no promises. There isn’t a quiet spot in our apartment, and I share a bedroom with my brothers — so lights go out early.

But, I’ll be back tomorrow. That’s THE FIFTH THING I wish all teachers knew: I’d rather be at school than at home. It’s a safe place for me. I get to be with my friends, and for the most part, I like my teachers. In fact, I don’t really like weekends and vacations — we usually don’t have the money to go anywhere and I get bored. Besides, it’s a lot of work to babysit my siblings.

Please don’t give up on me.

I like school.

Things aren’t as easy as you might think.

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