This week I was able to spend a good 75 minutes with a group of students. It was our first meeting so I didn’t lay it on thick. I scrapped a PowerPoint presentation, did away with a formal agenda, and decided to have a conversation.
I like to run my mouth and it was actually easy to be quiet, listen and learn. I would pose a question, let students respond, and let other students answer their peers. I was surprised at the amount of support they had for each other. (Minus the one student who I may have been too boring to keep awake). It was a ground breaking conversations and I will work over the next 6 months to build a relationship with this group of seniors before they trek beyond high school and get a new dose of life as adults.
This senior class ranges from 17 – 19 years old. I found them all engaging (even the snoozer), very respectful and at the end of the meeting I knew one thing, they have “senioritis”. For those who don’t know, “senioritis is when high school senior do just enough to get by and graduate; at least that’s my definition. They are ready to get high school over with and move on to the next leg of their journey. My goal is to help them navigate that journey. When five students raised their hand when I asked if they had lost a sibling to gun violence but only one said they had received counseling, I could only imagine what those in the class didn’t share. They are hurting in so many ways!
I had the students do a word play about 30 minutes in but I pushed it to the side once they were complete and saved it for the last nine minutes of our session. That was when students sat up and eyes began to open. It was then I saw how each student began to connect with their peers in ways they had not done prior. Defining, in their own terms, mom & mother, dad & father, mirror & future left them amazed with each other. I find my purpose here, among these students. It’s my daily struggle to find a place to impact students daily vs. what pays the bills. I love each of them, though only a few names stuck with me. I want their hope to become reality. I want their dreams to come to fruition. I want their chances to increase and their choices to matter.
Upon dismissal, “Mr. Briscoe, will we see you again or are you just passing through?” That’s connection and young people require consistency. “If your principal approves in 2020, you’ll see me every other week until you graduate.”
The journey continues