I don’t consider myself a poet. Yet if you had asked twelve-year-old me, I probably would have said I would love to be a poet one day. As I grew older, I realized it was a lofty dream because I wasn’t any good. (If you’re wondering: I still do write poetry.) I write with my students every school year, and I never grow any more confident in my poetry writing skills. I’m not upset about it; I’ve just chalked it up to something I’m not very good at doing. Yet every year, I’m overwhelmed by my students’ abilities. The funniest part about it is today when I asked them how they felt about poetry most of them said: “it’s boring,” “I never know what to write about,” or “I just don’t understand it.” What they have no idea is how talented they truly are.
I collected the poems they wrote yesterday: a self-reflective poem talking about where they’ve come from and where they’ll go. As two of the lines start “I dream” and “I hope,” I found that most of the treasures in their talents lie in these lines. It’s not only that these students have the ability to write quality poetry, but also these lines expose their wishes for the future. I’m yet again reminded how special and unique my job is in that I’m getting the smallest glimpse of the future.
Ten year old me wanted to be a marine biologist. Twelve year old me said I wanted to be a poet. Fourteen year old me wanted to be a math professor. I’m none of those things now, but do you know how many teachers got to see a glimpse of me in the future back in the fourth, sixth, and eighth grades? And now… that’s me: I’m the teacher. Just a few days ago I received an email from my tenth grade English expressing how she “wasn’t surprised at all” that I’ve become the teacher that I am today. But how did she know when I was sixteen years old?
Now, I understand. In small rare moments, like one’s I experienced today in my classroom, do I realize that I get a vision for the future.
So what did my students write in those two lines of poetry?
“I dream of becoming a pediatrician.”
“I hope I’ll become an archeologist.”
“I hope to go to Penn State University.”
“I dream of working as a psychologist.”
“I hope to go to the International Space Station.”
“I hope to travel all over the world.”
“I dream of becoming a teacher.”
I hope and dream every single one of their wishes come true.