There has been a lot of controversy surrounding this newly released Netflix's series. SPOILERS. Hannah ultimately takes her own life after being bullied, witnessing her
friend get raped, and her own rape. (Before you roll your eyes again, please know I'm not here to discuss whether this show is appropriate for young adults. Also, if you haven't seen it, read about it first. Holy triggers, Batman)
The day after the series released, my cherubs started referring to me as Hannah Baker. At first, I was flattered; Langford is pretty after all! But today's comment left my heart hurting. Take away the whole student-teacher relationship thing for a second because I know "kids will be kids" and they want to "test your limits." So for a second, forget that she's my student. Forget that we're suppose to have this professional relationship and just listen (well, read). The whole idea of 13 Reasons Why, I believe, is that people should be sympathetic towards others. People are dealing with problems that you may not always be able to see. Basically, be fucking kind to each other, damn it.
I'm sure this student did not mean what she said (meh, 80% sure... she doesn't like me much). But why did she say it? Why did she choose to say something so hurtful and so sensitive to another human? She watched the show, didn't she get the message? There would be no way for her to know that my story is similar to Hannah's minus the death part.
Being a teacher, to me, means you must prepare your students both academically and socially. I'm a good teacher #humblebrag But for real, I know I'm a good teacher because I am becoming the teacher that I needed. This scenario, however, has required me to reevaluate my previous statement. She will be ready academically for the next year, but what about socially?
When I first began teaching, I "felt" all my students' emotions.I was not adequately prepared for the emotional side of teaching. No one told me how hard it would be. It was terrible. It was draining. It made me gain 50 lbs (insert future blog post about teachers gaining weight will eventually go here). My students experienced terrible things and I needed them to know that their stories matter. I wanted to make sure that their stories were never extinguished. I wanted to be a person that would believe them. I wanted to be the person that I needed.
I'm sharing this for a reason. I have been told that I care too much about my students. I'm too emotionally invested. I'm too young and naive. I'm too vulnerable. After today, I don't by that. I'm sharing this for anyone who needs to hear it (well, read it). It is OK to be vulnerable. It is OK to relate to your students. It is OK to show them you are a person too. There is more to teaching than standards and academic growth. I wish I was told that and I wish that my education focused more on how to handle the topics presented in Hannah's story. Maybe then she would have thought before she said what she said.