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Never have I come home from a substitute teaching job and cried. Until this year…

The phone rang for middle school. My inner voice said you know it’s going to be tough. Delving into a class full of hormonal teens trying to figure out their place in the world can be challenging. I’ve done it for the past three years, subbing in classes that can be difficult to find subs for because of behaviors. Slowly it’s taken its toll, and this year I had decided to sub only for high school. Then came the call for middle. I figured I had all summer to rest, an attitude of positivity and a heart wanting to help. So, off I went to the most challenging job of my life.

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“Every child deserves a champion … an adult who will never give up with them, who understands the power of connection and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be.” – Rita Pierson

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When I said the class could work in groups a smile stretched across his face. He looked as if I had just told him we were taking a trip to Universal.  He grabbed his backpack and darted over to two other boys.

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My mother-in-law was sitting outside a store in her power wheelchair drinking a cup of coffee waiting for her ride when a stranger walked by and dropped some coins into her coffee cup. Imagine her surprise! She had no idea she needed help.

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I watch it happening before my inquisitive eyes. Girls sitting in a middle school classroom silent, unwilling to speak up when they know the answer, unwilling to correct the boys when it’s obvious they’re frustrated with the continuous outbursts or immature fart noises. They sit there. They follow. Some giggle. Why?

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I sat on the couch with two pups at my feet. They needed to go on a long walk after waiting all day for me to return from teaching. There were dishes in the sink, laundry, emails to answer, words to write for this blog and for my new novel. I felt like I had just run a marathon and could sleep until morning. I’ve always said there’s no tired like teaching tired. But my pups wanted two things, to be with me and to walk. I laughed to myself thinking they were my priority–one of the vocabulary words I had explained to the 6th graders. One side effect from teaching is that even after leaving the classroom the students voices and lessons from the day swirl in my mind until I drift off to sleep.

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