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“How was your summer?”
One of the most common questions asked by teachers and professors on the first day of school for all ages.
I recently stumbled upon an article that included this poem. As the beginning of the new school year is approaching, I’m wondering how everyone feels about that question and this poem. Do you feel it’s an appropriate question? Are there other questions a teacher could ask instead? Let me know your thoughts.
On the first day of school,
When you ask me how my summer was,
You’re assuming that it was good.
You’re assuming it was
And maybe it was.
Maybe I went to Six Flags.
And maybe I flew in an airplane.
And maybe I went on vacation to the beach
with my mom and my dad and my sister
(but we left our dog at home,
so my Uncle Dennis came over every day)
Maybe I participated in the summer
reading program at the metro library,
and I read four books above my grade level.
And maybe I got to spend a lot of time with
my mom because she is a teacher like you.
Maybe, just maybe, I had a pass to the pool.
Or maybe I interned at the zoo.
Or maybe I went to STEM camp,
or church camp, or the lake.
Maybe I played summer ball.
Maybe life was good
because I slept late,
I did whatever I wanted,
And I didn’t have to come here
and eat that nasty cafeteria food.
Maybe my summer was great.
Or Maybe it wasn’t so great.
Maybe I didn’t leave my neighborhood at all.
Maybe I’ve never been on vacation,
Never been out of Oklahoma.
Maybe I couldn’t leave my house all day
because I was in charge of my two
little brothers and my baby sister.
Maybe I’ve never been to the city pool
and I still don’t know how to swim.
Maybe I haven’t opened a book since May.
Maybe I got a summer job
to support my family.
Maybe I went to bed hungry every night
because there was not enough food.
Maybe we moved twice in one month
and I just found out yesterday
that I would be coming to this school.
Maybe I was physically and emotionally hurt
by someone who is supposed to love me.
Maybe I don’t want to be here,
But it damn sure is better than being at home.
Maybe I left my house every morning walking
and didn’t come home until after dark.
Maybe, just that one time, I was at home
for three whole days and nights.
And even when I wasn’t by myself,
maybe I went whole days
Maybe I don’t have any friends,
But at least when I’m at school
I can pretend that I do.
Maybe my summer was ok,
But maybe I have the feeling
that I deserve so much better.
Maybe the first day of school
is the most exciting thing about my summer.
And maybe that’s why I am so loud,
And want to talk,
And don’t want to sit down,
And want to touch people,
And want to run in the halls,
And don’t want to do math.
(at least not the first couple of days)
What I am trying to say is,
You don’t know how my summer was.
So just in case it wasn’t as great as yours,
Maybe you might find a better question
to ask me on the first day of school.”
FULL ARTICLE: How Was Your Summer?
I think this is a great thing to take into consideration when asking others what they did this summer. Not everyone comes from an ideal home situation or environment, and being able to change the question to something that may provoke a more trust-inducing response from a student can definitely be the beginning of a positive teacher-student relationship.
Perhaps more appropriate questions to ask may be: What’s the best thing you did this summer/ what is your favorite memory of this summer- so that the question is then turned into a sort of gratefulness exercise? Or maybe just asking an icebreaker question like what do you want me to know about you- something generally broad, that can be used as deeply as the student may need it in order to share something.
TurningPointCT.org was developed by young people in Connecticut who are in recovery from mental health and substance use issues. We know what it’s like to feel alone, stressed, worried, sad, and angry. We’ve lived through the ups and downs of self-harm, drugs and alcohol, and the struggle to find help.
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