Thursday, June 16, 2011
Year One Done

Well, I did it! I successfully (or so I think) completed my first year as an English teacher. It's taken me a week or two to actually post something about it because I'm not quite sure what to say.

I learned that teaching is a marathon. You start the year with all this hope and energy and lots of grand ideas. Then, somewhere around November you're thinking maybe your training wasn't adequate enough for the task at hand; you're thinking maybe you are not cut out for this. Then, you get a break and, with it, a second wind but those last six weeks are seemingly impossible. Your friends and family keep telling you "You're almost there! Keep going! You can do it!" but the finish line seems nowhere in sight. Alright that's an awfully bad metaphor for just saying that teaching is hard, plain and simple. And teaching kids that have been set up for failure--be it by the system or society or their own parents--is even harder. I have a newfound respect for those who have been successful educators for decades. Did I say it was hard?

I discovered how discouraging the day-to-day grind of this job can be. For instance, when you have spent an entire week reviewing how to write clear, concise thesis statements only to have a 16-year-old look up at you on Thursday and say, "What's a thesis statement?" It's hard not to take it personal. However, with that I also realized that sometimes you have to remove yourself from the daily routine in order to see what your students are capable of and the impact that you're having on their lives. Like when I chaperoned the biology department's annual trip to the aquarium and saw a true sense of wonder and exploration in their eyes. Or when I explain to them how to use the word paraphernalia correctly and they started using it to refer to their skateboarding gear.

I'd say I am proud of the curriculum that I created and the way I taught writing and reading. I'm really proud of my 10Th graders' state test scores (up by 17 percent!). But more than anything I am really happy with the way I built relationships with my students. They started the year hating me simply because I'm an adult (It's easy to forget this, especially for those of you who don't see me up at the front of a classroom everyday, but now I'm THE MAN). They ended the year begging me to return and to teach juniors so they would have me again next year. I don't think this is because I'm a push over or a buddy-buddy teacher but because I invested in their success and they knew I was rooting for them to do well. I'm also hoping that at some point during the year each one of them enjoyed a poem or a story and that they realized that literature can be awesome. Yeah, I'm a nerd. But as I tell my students, "Nerds rule the world."

Here's a video some of my students created in order to thank the teachers and--who are we kidding--to make us look like fools:

Posted by Kelley at 4:36 PM | 0 comments