21 things I learned from my 21st year of teaching - the list
I snapped this selfie the last day of school with students. I think I look excited and happy and kinda tired too. That seems about right for this time of year.
1. My desk will never be clean; I really should just stop trying.
2. My graded work "out" system is working well; the "in" system still needs some tweaking.
3. Make-up work is the bane of my existence, but I have a hard time denying students the opportunity to make up work they missed. It's the conflict of my soft heart and my rigid need to hold kids accountable.
4. I feel like I get less done every year. Less literature, less writing, less grammar - I'm working harder every day, but I'm accomplishing less. I'm not sure why that is.
5. Discipline issues get easier overall, but the discipline problems I do have seem to center around "meanness" more than anything else.
6. I still don't have a cure for student apathy.
7. Most days, I still enjoy going to work. I feed off the energy of the students and the rhythm of our days. I like the variety of experiences but the continuity of schedule.
8. I rarely teach the same thing the same way from year to year; this confuses students who think teachers never try anything new.
9. Students who come back to visit and keep in touch with me remind me of why I do this job.
10. No matter how hard I try, I cannot keep up with the slang. I'm working on it though.
11. Teenagers give me energy and keep me young.
12. I'm glad that my kids know they can count on me to be real with them. I think they mostly respect me for that more than anything else.
13. I miss teaching some of the classics that get axed because of test preparation, particularly Antigone and poetry potpourri and Cold Sassy Tree with my sophomores.
14.Likewise, I worry that I didn't do enough with the seniors. I didn't get all of their real-life questions answered; I just didn't have enough time. Of course, I think they'd probably argue differently.
15. If I ever consider assigning a multi-genre project at the end of the year with a presentation component again, please take me in for psychiatric evaluation.
16. I'd still like to write a book about funny and poignant moments as a teacher; let me just add that to my 'to-do' list. I guess I could do that when I retire; that would protect the innocent and the guilty. Haha!
17. Even when they drive me crazy, they are 'my' kids. Whether it's a twist of fate or destiny, my life and theirs are shaped by the experience we have in my classroom together. For most of them, I hope they look back on a positive experience. I can honestly say there are very few kids over the year that I haven't liked; maybe that's like the memory of childbirth though. You have a tendency to forget the pain because the payoff is so worth it.
18. I need to make more time to read because I want to stay fresh with the newest publications; that's hard to do in the midst of my sometimes crazy workload and personal life.
19. The last week of school is bittersweet - I'm thrilled but sad too. I have a tendency to tear up a lot, so mascara isn't usually a good decision.
20. Sweet, end of year notes from students may be the very best thing about teaching.
21. Or it could be the tear-filled hugs as they say goodbye to me as seniors.
Here are a few pics of me with some of my very special seniors this year:
And here's a pic of me on the very last day of school with kiddos - throw your hands in the air like you just don't care! Haha!
In a couple of days, I'll be sharing some of the notes my students gave me this year. Right now, it makes me cry too much to share them today. I need a little perspective and distance first.
Peace out, teacher and kiddo peeps!