Friday, June 16, 2006

Done

Today I completed my fifth year of teaching, thus clearing the dreaded "50% in 5 Years" curse. I didn't have students today (or yesterday for that matter), as it was a day to congratulate retirees, clean out classrooms, and do the last minute stuff that teachers do. My last day went like this:

-Get to school at 8:30.
-Put away the television and vcr, which is basically the last items to put away.
-Go to the faculty breakfast. First I sit with the coaches and talk sports stuff. Then I sit by the younger teachers and talk fun stuff.
-The retirees are announced. I stay for one, then rush to his classroom to get his advice before he leaves. I actually leave in the middle of the retiree thingy, but his advice does what I hoped it would do; leave me excited for next year. The last month has been a pretty shitty experience. His words left me in a good frame of mind.
-After the function ends, I quickly take a few boxes out to my car and check-out. Then I return to the classroom.
-Go online and buy lots of fun stuff of next year's International Studies class. It's like Christmas!
-Have a fun conversation with the younger generation of teachers, some that are leaving us, and others that are staying.
-Finally, end the day with a 5 hour golf outing with other teachers. It was the perfect way to end the year.

What a bizarre year. What with two significant deaths in the family to start, a lame attack on this blog to follow, then the flood, and finally all the meetings at the end of the year. This year could be forgotten and I'd have no problems with that. That's not to say that the students weren't great, because I had some outstanding students. Two students failed my class, and the rest completely earned the Economics part of the diploma that they will receive. I set high standards and a vast majority of the students, regardless of the complaining, found that bar and passed it.

I know the many tasks that I need to work on for next year, but one is hands and feet above the rest. I need to spend less time focusing on the negative issues with students and invest my energy into the students that are prepared to go after my class with a vengeance. Example. Thursday was a day without Seniors since they were at graduation practice. I cleaned and prepared everything for the summer. While I did this, at least a dozen students came in to say that they loved the class, learned a lot, and have me lots of hand shakes and hugs. Then I had one meeting, over one student, and the entire day focused around that one situation, all other stuff left my mind. Today a man gave me a great piece of advice. "Always keep everything in perspective. I've listened to what students say about you. You are doing wonderful things in your classroom. And think about the fact that if we impact that one student that this is all worth it. You are doing more than that and it is just one student that, well, you know. Just always keep that perspective. When you are in that meeting, remember that there are classes full of kids that are getting a positive impact from your class."
I need to remember that, or I won't last very long in this job. I had a few very nasty conferences that left a lasting imprint on my year. I don't like dealing with unreasonable people that think that their children are perfect. Your children lie. They might be wonderful kids, but they make mistakes, lie, and don't always follow through with what needs to be done. They are kids. I drove to Willits last night to attend their graduation and I was considering the idea of teaching college classes, thus ending the parent involvement. It was not a happy thought.
But today I felt a little excited for next year, again. That means that I'm in the right job, and I need to be determined to not let a handful dictate the atmosphere of my teaching experience. So the fire and passion are still there. I'm determined, excited, and very looking forward to my three classes for next year. They will be; College Prep Economics, Introduction to Economics, and yes, International Studies! The class passed and is reality!
I'll post my student's teacher reviews later. I think you will find them interesting.
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