Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Stand and Deliver or Summer School?

Hello end of another school year.  2011-12 was good year, despite circumstances that had a high suck potential including: losing my classroom to traveling on a cart, inheriting my maternity leave’s sub schedule of all freshmen, two surgeries,  and being back full time after a year away working from home. When I wrote back in August that I was going back full time I had moments thinking the suck potential was high. Guess what, in the end it didn’t.

Surprisingly it was one of the best years of my 12 years to date.  Thinking I have 18 more until full retirement is a little depressing.  But how amazing is it that since student teaching 2, 500 students have passed through my classes.   Most likely I was yet another teacher for yet another required class to graduate.   Maybe the day I taught the circular flow model of economics using a diaper stuck to the board that some student will remember.  Or that I bribed students with food if they stayed for review.

I mentioned to my assistant principal this morning when he thanked me for coming back that I wanted to thank him for helping support teachers in the classroom.  School-wide policies that have been tinkered with each and every year finally felt like they are working.  When you help start something from the ground up you become accustomed to continual change.  It feels amazingly cathartic to see something you have poured much energy into finally working.
This year I focused more than I ever have on my students repeating as I had a glut of 2 and 3rd time re –peters among the classes.  Believe me I wrote up discipline referrals for more ridiculous stuff than ever before.  Some days it felt like a crazy train from the 15 and under crew from 7-4pm and then more crazy from my own under 6 crew from 5-8pm. I have an unbelievable threshold for noise as well as crazy.
Result all but 4 of my nearly 200 students passed.  I say this not for a pat on the back but because in this profession the only real satisfaction is seeing someone who really struggled finally make it.   
Teachers have the power to push you to places you didn’t think you could go, but also have the power to tear you down, making you feel small and stupid.  Every student is someone’s kid with a vested interest in seeing them graduate.

If ever there is a profession where you need to check your own issues at the door it is teaching.  Bring a bad morning with you to school, guaranteed students will pick up your mood and eat you alive.  I live by the mantra to try to be somewhere between hard-ass and soft place to fall.

I think I need to start the It Gets Better High School campaign.  For so many of us high school had points or even years that we would rather forget. Even through the clothes have gotten skimpier and kids more daring to do stuff at an earlier age, the belief that your entire life is wrapped up in who you know, who doesn’t like you, how you look is still very much a daily reality.

Most days I like what I do for 1/3 of the day, but I won’t lie, having 8 whole weeks of time off is sweet.  I’m happy to shed the 5:15 am wake up call for day camp drop off, t-ball practices, fetching overconfident toddlers out of the pool.  I’m ready for my only students to be Ben and Ian.

School’s out for summer.  School’s out forever (or just August 17th).

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