I was a new teacher, substituting in an English class when I came across Tom Wayman’s poem “Did I Miss Anything?”. Every teacher hears the question several times each week as students who’ve missed a class come to see whether their grades will be impacted by their absences. It gets frustrating. Wayman’s poem reflects the frustration of teachers called to respond to that question.
Of course, the student missed something! If I am doing my job properly, just knowing the task assigned is not sufficient. It is in the preparation for the assignment and the discussion around it that the greatest learning can take place. The opportunity to consult with peers, to explore their understanding as well as your own helps you to grow as a learner. Of course, students miss something when they are not in class; moreover, the class misses something as well.
Your presence improves our learning, too. We miss you. You miss us.
In most cases, the world will not change dramatically because a student isn’t in class, but Tom Wayman imagines a time when that could be the case. His ironic tone matches those felt by those harried teachers who must attempt to synthesize instruction and discussion into a few seconds when they tell the student about the missing assignment while readying the class for the new lesson.
Read Tom Wayman’s poem: Did I miss anything? The answer is, “Of course, you did!”