In case you didn’t hear me the first 22 times I mentioned this, I have been wondering lately if I can stomach a classroom for the next… oh, let me calculate years working (8) subtracted from years left to work before retirement or certain death… oh, right… forever. But I won’t dwell on that. However, weird/good things keep falling into my lap, for lack of a better label, that seem to be erasing some of that negativity I am so prone to focusing on.
Why the weird/good things? Because it’s certainly not that I put all my life’s effort into my job, since I have 2 small children, a house, several pets, whiplash (had to toss that out there… it’s basically gone… thanks for asking), etc. And it’s certainly not that I spend many waking hours planning, grading, wondering how I can influence future generations. In all honestly, some days I just want to make it through.
My initial thought: Freak accident. Coincidence.
Well, that wasn’t satisfying. There has to be some reason that my days are truly so much more fulfilling than they were during my first few years on the job. Even so much more than the past few months. Is it that I have completely lowered my standards? That I expect so little from my students that whenever they do something mediocre I become giddy? Well, no. I do get to teach the best students that go through the building… the ones who go on to full scholarships, Merit Scholarship Finalists, score 5s on AP tests, etc. That makes no sense. So really… what is happening?
Divine intervention? A sign from something/someone that I’ll be OK if I just keep going? Seems as likely as anything else I’ve come up with.
What am I doing differently now than I did a few years ago? I spend much less time planning lessons and obsessing about how to keep kids busy than I used to. I don’t care if we have 5 or 10 minutes left over at the end of class. This is prime time to test out some new jokes. On the first day of class, I smile. I don’t worry about discipline. I know I am in control, but I don’t need to rub it in; I don’t need to make mean faces and threats about cell phones or bathroom passes. That’s confidence, I guess. I also admit that I spend much less time thinking about the adults in my building – the other teachers, the ones who I can choose to compare myself to or just acknowledge as unique in their own ways. The adults can be so disappointing. The kids? Not so much.
I leave you with a list of these things falling into my lap that have given me some steam to keep going (at LEAST until May):
- Two Writer’s Craft students won a script writing contest and their works will be produced and performed next summer at a theater festival in Columbus. I am thrilled that anyone from my school was chosen, but knowing how extremely tickled these particular students are makes me absolutely GUSH. One of these kids actually plans to be a novelist! Can you imagine what kind of encouragement this must be? She texted me as soon as she found out, and the other student emailed and told me the news the same day. You can even read about it at brd.hilliardschools.org. I know the webmaster (wink wink).
- One of my newsies asked me to dress up with her tomorrow because it’s her birthday. That’s kind of adorable.
- My new speech class seems fantastic. My last speech class consisted of 8 students, 4 of which were senior boys (the kind who drive big trucks, chew on stuff, and roll down hills for fun) and a few intimidated underclassmen girls. It did NOT go well. I dreaded it daily. You might say I grew a bad attitude about the class in general, especially because guidance counselors are not always known for their particularly keen placements. But now? I have a class of 21, many of whom seem to be pretty dedicated students. Today every single one of them turned in their homework before even leaving the room to go home and do it. I can appreciate that. There are even a handful of 9th graders, which I think is interesting. I would Never have had the guts to take Speech as a 9th grader. I barely made it through as a senior! *Speech should be a requirement for graduation. Just saying.
- My newspaper kids came back from break ready to go. Trust me, they are the light of my day. I kind of figured that for the February issue we’re starting, they would be all about Valentine’s Day and hearts and kittens, since 12 of the 13 are girls. And that would probably be a nice issue, and people would read it, and we would all go on with our lives. HOWever, guess what they want to write about? Several students started talking about Home Access addiction, and how students care more about points than about learning, and, NOT KIDDING, how education is kind of crazy. I sat at my desk, like I do, and listened, and took notes, and within 40 minutes we had designed a sort of themed issue. With one Valentine’s Day recipe, tucked into a corner. I am so proud of them.
I tell you these things to remind us about all the great things that happen. Period. Because, like I said, it is so easy for me to focus on what is not so great.