Expectations #SOLSC21

When the bell rang and no students appeared for one of my afternoon classes, I started Zoom to meet my virtual kids with no mask and door open, just in case.

It was weird because I normally have anywhere between 2-5 students in that period. Sure enough, one young man trailed in about five minutes into class. He looked angry, discombobulated, uncertain. After Zoom, I asked a bit about his mood, but it was clear he didn’t want to say much. The little he was willing to offer was enough to lead me to believe there was disappointment involved, maybe shame? He began working and suddenly…

Student: Ms. What do you expect from your children?
Me: Like, expectations of my students?
Student: Nah, YOUR children.
Me: OH. The ones I give birth to?
Student: Yeah. When they get older. What do you expect of them when they’re older, when they get to my age?

And now I was the one discombobulated and uncertain.

Me: I… Uh, okay, well.
Me: Well, this is easy, I expect, uh… my kids? Okay, when my kids are older, I expect…

I have no clue why, but I was completely stumped. Have I never thought of this before? Has nobody ever asked me this question?

Me: OKAY, kid, to be honest, I have no clue why I’m stumbling so much. It feels like I should say “I want them to be happy,” but that’s not even true. Happiness is so fleeting, so instead I want them to be full of joy. Even when life gets rough, I want them to have joy. I feel like I should say I expect them to be academic superstars, but I don’t know if that’s true either. I think I expect them to have a strong work ethic, to serve others well, to demonstrate compassion to everyone. To listen carefully before they open their mouths.

He nodded and offered up a half smile. Now I’m wondering if my answer met his expectations. I have a toddler and second baby on the way. Why did I not have a well-crafted answer to spit out??

26 thoughts on “Expectations #SOLSC21

  1. Tim Gels says:

    That’s not an easy question to answer. Even once they’re grown, it’s hard (for me, anyway) to know what you want for them. Joy, yes. Success, character, and a desire to serve, yes. May they get what you hope for them, and so much more!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. britt says:

      Actually, that’s pretty comforting to know. I sometimes worry I’ll later regret I didn’t have all the right answers. Right now! I definitely hope they get much, much more.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Erica J says:

    I love how you incorporate dialog and conversations — I need to work on doing that more with my slices. The way you captured the conversation made me smile because it reminded me of conversations I’ve had with my students — they ask me difficult questions sometimes too.

    That being said boy did they throw you for a loop with that one! I bet they appreciated your honesty at least. That sounds like a hard question to answer and one of those questions/answers that changes over time? I’m not a mother and don’t plan on being one, but I’m sure you aren’t the only parent to be stumped or not even consider something like that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. britt says:

      Thanks for the compliment, friend! 😉 I love capturing conversations (is that a thing? sounds like it should be a thing..)

      Also, that’s a great point – I think I need to rest in the fact that it’s okay for my answer to change over time when it comes to hard questions like that.


  3. MJ Strong says:

    Wow. Well done. That turned out to be a beautiful, honest answer. I don’t know if you helped him with whatever was going through his mind that day, but I am sure you strengthened a bond between you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. britt says:

      Wow, thank you, thank you! When he left, I literally thought, “what just happened?” LOL. I hope our bond strengthened, too.


  4. natashadomina says:

    What a cool, unexpected conversation to have! How lovely for that student to feel like he could ask you that question–and also how cool for him to see a teacher not have a pat answer, but to really think about the question. Those sound like great expectations for your kids. I love the pacing of this slice–the variety in short lines and that long paragraph at the end when you figure out an answer to say. So beautiful to read.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. britt says:

      Thank you for complimenting the craft, too. How encouraging!! 🙂

      These interactions and unexpected conversations are one of the things I miss most about a “normal” school year.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. writingandlaughing says:

    Oh my goodness, what a profound question to be asked and what a profound experience to share with a student. I think your answer was perfect because it was from the heart, not a canned rehearsed answer, and vulnerable. If kids can see us modeling those aspects in real time, in real life?! What a gift. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  6. iwearitonmysleeve says:

    As a non-parent, as much as I can offer up and the copout answer would be we want what they want. What the yearn for What the invest their time in. Happiness and safety are givens, but the reason that is such a tough question is because there is no wrong answer.

    Joshua C

    Liked by 1 person

  7. kflockhart says:

    Perfect moment of the day to slice. A moment that caused you to stop in your tracks and think about. Well chosen. I like the connection your student was going for but probably didn’t even know it. Glad you were there to stumble for him, (shows we are human) and give it some ponderance for yourself.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. theapplesinmyorchard says:

    Wow! What a difficult question this student asked you! Actually, I think you want different things for your children as they grow. And, maybe, even different things for each of them – I realized that each of my boys (now 26, 21, and 19) all needed a different mother (meaning a different approach). Of course, I want them to all be happy, know joy, feel loved, and be productive members of society. But, I want one to know a sense of confidence and self-worth, another to feel a sense of community support as well as acknowledgment for his contributions, and my third to stay humble as he reaches for fame as an artist. The Tim McGraw song says it well, “always stay humble and kind….” I think you’ll be fine Britt, know that there is not any one right answer for this question, and the answer might change through the years. Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. britt says:

      I so, so appreciate this encouragement. Your comment is beautiful and honest, THANK YOU. I really love the idea (and reality) of my kids each needing a different mom. And hopefully I’ve learned that in teaching; one size doesn’t fit all. You’re so kind. ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Lainie Levin says:

    That’s a really big question to ask. And here’s what I really love: that this student trusted and felt comfortable enough with you to engage you in this conversation. And let’s face it – part of what makes our work so amazing and wonderful is the ability our kids constantly have for surprising us.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Anna Maria says:

    Oh this sounds like how I was yesterday when a student asked me a question. He just threw it out there & I’m not sure what prompted it! But unlike you I knew my answer. This question–Wow. I would’ve been speechless too but I think your answer is an excellent one. At least you were honest with him. I’m sure he appreciated the genuineness of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Darin Johnston says:

    Britt, that is quite the question AND response on the fly! I love your hesitation, your need to compose yourself before giving him your answer. This type of modeling is priceless for our students, that idea that we don’t just pop off with the first thing that comes to mind, but that we think and choose our words, especially with important things, such as this question!

    Thank you for sharing this look into both your student and yourself. 🙂 It


  12. Jackie Higgins says:

    These moments with students are so important. You captured it so well. I had chills when I read your final response. My fifth-grade son recently told me he was working on identifying his “core values”. (Sometimes the kids are farther along in this than we are, ha!) I feel like you were working through that in your dialogue. You aren’t trying to be the mom that controls what your kids do in the future, but you’re trying to define some core values. My 5th grader also told me, “if you know your core values, you know what things to say yes to, and what things to say no to” I think his awesome 5th grade teacher helped him think through all of this. 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s