I couldn't help but be moved by teacherken's awesome diary reflecting on a teaching life that was well lived. If you do read this teacherken I wish you all the best in your future travels. If you wish to read his diary I marked it for you, I highly recommend it.
After reading it I thought about reflecting on my time teaching, finishing off year 13 but ready to get back to start year 14.
I know for some it may seem almost blasphemy to speak of getting back to school right as you go out on summer but I do. Never felt like that before but this year I do. Didn't really have a bad group of kids and wanted to redeem myself. Nor did I have a great group of kids that made me want to try out the same things again.
I was reading my stuff and filing it away for the summer, but as I was going through it and rehashing about what happened in each lesson, I found myself thinking about what I can do to improve on these lessons. How I can enhance this idea and make it come alive for my kids? What can i do to make this concept easier to understand? What can I do to simply make the idea of the progressive movement more interesting to kids who have no idea of how good they have it now?
I found myself reading over much of the materials that I got at workshops that I never had a chance to read and was underlining and post it noting page after page with ideas of how I can incorporate these ideas into my lesson.
I was writing out on a notepad of what went right this year and what went wrong and how to change it. I was up to four pages as of this typing.
I was going through the yearbook that I bought and underlining to identify which students I taught. It is a ritual I do just in case one of them gets famous and I can say I knew them then. But I also can't help but read the notes that they left of how much fun they had and how they hope that they get me in 8th grade for Civics. I taught 6th and 7th grade US History and over 1/3 of the 7th graders I taught this past year had me for 6th grade so it was a bit bittersweet to say goodbye to them.
I also looked over my SOL (Standards of Learning or other wise known by other less desirable names) scores for this past year and noting how 100% of my 6th graders passed and 97% of my 7th graders passed, I was annoyed with myself that two of the 7th graders who did not pass also did not pass with me when I taught them in 6th grade. I kind of feel a bit ashamed but I move on and learn from it. I know those can argue about the idea of me looking at a test as my sole means of accomplishment and they would be fair. I always look at that these kids show mastery of material that we learn over the course of an entire school year and are able to display it. I always am aware that their is more to my accomplishments as a teacher. Did I set a good example as a person? Did I reach as many of them as I could? Could I have done anything different to address the social aspects of their lives?
So I have packed away for the summer but I am going to keep up and read up on new ideas and concepts for the classroom. I am going to plot out new strategies every now and then when the mood hits. I am going to deal with the fact that now that I will be home more often that our three cats will think that since I am here it is always feeding time. I am more importantly going to concentrate on the idea that I will tie the knot with the most wonderful woman in the whole world this August.
We to also had the meeting in the cafeteria where we all reflected on the past year, honored those who survived the first year, note to all aspiring teachers survive year one and the rest is a piece of cake. Next came to part where we say good bye to those that will not be back, most of them are moving onto other schools for various reasons, no retirements this year. Always thought about every now and then what it would be like when I decide to retire but then that idea goes away real quick.
Why, because after all that I will still be thinking about next school year and what I am going to do. We have got the word that the incoming 6th graders may be bit of a challenge, I say BRING EM ON, I AM READY WILLING AND ABLE TO TEACH YOU TO BE A BETTER PERSON. When that feeling leaves me, I guess that will be my cue to ride off into the sunset and be part of that moment at the last faculty meeting where everyone rises and gives you a standing ovation for a job well done. You know that some of those people are happy to see you go but maybe they are giving you a little bit of respect for what you have done. I know that time will come for me to walk out of the classroom for the last time, but for now not yet. I am still ready for year 14.